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Standing with refugees: Where are we and what's next?

Standing with refugees: Where are we and what's next?

Date(s) - 09/22/2022
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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Christian Concern for One World

Online event for Thames Valley Christians – a time of learning, sharing, encouraging, networking and prayer.

About this event

Many Christians and their churches across the Thames Valley are supporting refugees. Some have been engaging with refugees for years; for others it’s begun over the past year as people fleeing Afghanistan and Ukraine have arrived in our area. Some are working together with other local churches or community groups, others on their own; and the range of activity is amazing. Be part of this local network!

Join with us and other local churches to:

• Gain an overview from experts in the refugee sector

• Hear inspiring and encouraging stories of what churches have been doing

• Hear from some refugees who have come to this area

• Share learning and experiences in breakout room discussions on key topics

• Consider what’s next – challenges & opportunities

• Hear about a new network for mutual support

• Pray for this important ministry



7.00 pm Welcome and opening prayer


7.05 pm Where are we now and what’s happening?

– Overview of UK and Thames Valley refugee situation

Mark Goldring, Director of Asylum Welcome, Oxford

Nick Harborne, CEO of Reading Refugee Support Group


7:25 pm What is it like to come to the Thames Valley?


Abdullah Alkhalaf – came to Oxford from Syria in 2018 through Community Sponsorship


7:40 pm Questions to speakers


7:50 pm How are churches responding?

Steve Barber – How churches in Bicester are supporting Syrians, Afghans & Hong Kongers

Fiona Winterbottom – How Greyfriars and New Hope, Reading are supporting refugees through Community Sponsorship, Farsi Alpha group, drop-in and more

Adam Townsend – How Aylesbury Vineyard is supporting Ukrainians


8:15 pm Breakout rooms where you can raise questions and share experiences with experts in the field and other church members working in these areas

(1) Supporting Ukrainians

(2) Community Sponsorship

(3) Helping refugees into work

(4) Helping refugees find housing

(5) Helping refugees into higher education


8.40 pm The wider picture

Krish Kandiah– Having influence in the public square


8:55 pm Next steps, including future network meetings, and closing prayer


9:00 pm Additional time of prayer for any who wish to join



Information about the speakers:

Mark Goldring, Director of Asylum Welcome, Oxford –

Asylum Welcome offers information, advice and practical support to asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants living in Oxfordshire. Started in 1996, this charity has established its reputation as the leading refugee charity in Oxford. Asylum Welcome’s dedicated small staff team and over 100 volunteers have a wealth of expertise and knowledge gained from working with and advocating for refugees. Under Mark’s leadership since April 2020, they have further increased community involvement, and added support for Afghans in temporary hotel accommodation and coordinating support for Ukrainians to the many things they do.


Nick Harborne, CEO of Reading Refugee Support Group –

Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) helps refugees and people seeking asylum with legal advice, practical help, education, social activities and more. They are the leading refugee charity in Berkshire, formed in 1994. In 2019 they were proud to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services as an acknowledgement of the tireless work of their volunteers. Over the past year their work has expanded to include supporting Afghans, in temporary hotel accommodation and those being resettled in Berkshire, as well as Ukrainians. RRSG uses the expertise they have developed in this sector to raise awareness of refugee issues and campaign for changes to improve the lives of refugees.


Fiona Winterbottom, chair of the Community Sponsorship group at Greyfriars, Reading –

Greyfriars began in 2017 to resettle a family to Reading under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, with the family arriving in March 2019. As well as continuing to support that family, Greyfriars is now active in several other ways with refugees. They run a refugee drop-in once a week providing free drinks and food, board games, books, advice where appropriate and friendship. They are part of a Churches of Sanctuary subgroup of Reading City of Sanctuary. They now have several Iranian asylum seekers attending church and volunteering and an Alpha group run in Farsi. As part of the Welcome Churches Network they have also received some support referrals recently.


Steve Barber, Minister of Orchard Baptist Church, Bicester –

In 2017 Steve was instrumental in starting Churches in Bicester Refugee Support Group which petitioned the Council to take Syrian refugees. They have developed a good partnership with the council and Connection Support and now support 15 resettled Syrian families locally as well as 6 Afghan families. This includes befriending, helping furnish houses and providing needed items. Recently the churches in Bicester, in conjunction with OCCAC, have started a monthly conversation cafe for newly settled Hong Kongers.


Adam Townsend, Coordinator of Aylesbury Vineyard’s Ukrainian Friends and Family Hub –

Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse has been helping people in need since 1998, providing furniture, household goods, children’s clothing and equipment and emergency food parcels. Since earlier this year they have also been hosting the Ukrainian Friends and Family Hub, in collaboration with Buckinghamshire Council. This is a weekly social event for guests and sponsors, including a meal (for about 65 people) and English classes, in addition to material assistance.


Krish Kandiah, Founding director of the Sanctuary Foundation –

Krish is a social entrepreneur with a vision to help solve some of society’s seemingly intractable problems through building partnerships across civil society, faith communities, government and philanthropy. Krish is the founding director of the Sanctuary Foundation that has helped mobilise thousands of individuals, churches and businesses to support refugees.



Register here to attend and we will send you the final programme and Zoom link shortly before the event. For further information please contact Joanna Schüder, CCOW Refugee Networking Officer, 07552948688,


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