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Ukraine Response

The invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe, which is growing every hour. 

As a local community church, we are looking at ways in which we can provide further spiritual and other practical and loving support to those affected by this crisis, and those who may seek sanctuary in our city.

We now have a small working group looking into how we might be able to help more practically, when the local need arises. This group will also liaise and network with any local community groups. This is a situation which will be going on for some considerable time, and so it is important not only to pray and practically support now, but also to think through carefully and thoroughly, what we may be able to offer those in need, in the medium term too. Let's be urgent to immediate needs, and also be patient, to ensure we can continue to be there offering support in months and years down the line.

1. Giving - Practical and Financial

There are many local and national initiatives for giving to the humanitarian needs resulting from the war. We commend the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee), which represents the coming together at times of large-scale disasters, of charities such as World Vision, Oxfam UK, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Action Aid, British Red Cross and others. The Government has pledged to match up to £20 million donated by the public to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

The Bishop of Bristol also writes,

"The Diocese in Europe is working with USPG, which ensures a response which is informed by USPG's experience of mission in global conflicts and the impact of conflict on all the peoples of the world. While our media focus on Ukraine, war rages also in (for example) Eritrea, South Sudan and Yemen, and Afghanistan remains in turmoil. The Diocese in Europe has extensive experience of working with refugees from the global south, as well as from Syria, and is appealing for funds.

There is currently great generosity being shown by churches and the wider UK community, with clothes, food and pharmaceuticals being shipped from the UK by road to Eastern Europe. But it is hard to ensure that the right stuff is in the place where it is needed.

On the other hand, financial donations can be given directly to those in need so they can buy what is required locally.

One of the chaplains commented on how a gift of cash could be used to buy a coffee, or pay for another night in a hotel while waiting for a visa, or buy what their baby needs; that cash restores a little self-esteem for those who have lost everything."

The Diocese of Europe - Ukraine Response

USPG - Ukraine Emergency Appeal

2. Refugee Crisis

The Church of England now has dedicated staff working on this, and liaising with Government regarding immigration process and settling refugees. The UK government will soon announce a new sponsorship route and will be looking to individuals, communities and organisations to offer sponsorship, including space in homes for medium term stays (probably at least 6 months). There are organisations which will also support with training and know how. More information will become available in the next few days, and we shall be processing information received via Bristol Diocese and the C of E as quickly as we can.

Volunteers will need be DBS checked. Working alongside experienced charities and sponsoring groups in this complex area will be crucial in being able to both offer and manage our practical support.

In response to the unfolding crisis, it is agreed that the UK will take in a number of refugees, and we are preparing in this area of Bristol to play our part.  

There is also a small local community unit which is getting together to think about what practical and financial responses can be offered, both in listing those who might be able to help with accommodation or be part of a rota for occasionally feeding a Ukrainian family.  Other issues such as entertainment for children, schooling, clothing, books, child counselling help and so on are part of the longer list.  It seems likely that initially family units will consist mainly of mothers and children.

If you think that you might be able to help - especially with the possibility of accommodation and feeding - please send information via the church office, and this will be passed onto the local community contact.

3. Prayer

Please pray, pray, pray, for peace in our world, and for those caught up in tragedy and conflict, whether in Ukraine or elsewhere.

Vulnerable God, you challenge the powers that rule this world,
through the needy, the compassionate,
and those who are filled with longing.
Make us hunger and thirst to see right prevail,
and single-minded in seeking peace;
that we may see your face
And be satisfied in you,
through Jesus Christ.
Amen.

By Janet Morley