Generous support raised for families seeking asylum

Karen James from Colinton Parish Church in Edinburgh raised £535 at her birthday party to support families seeking asylum in Scotland with vital vouchers.

Karen James
Karen James

Hundreds of people seeking asylum in Scotland are currently housed in hotels. They receive just £8 a week to live on (just over £1 a day!) and aren’t permitted to use their skills and talents in paid work. Four churches in Edinburgh were moved by their situation and raised over £2,500 in vouchers to enable people to buy some basic necessities or treats. Karen’s church was one of those participating and she was inspired to do more.

“I was having a 50th Birthday bash recently with friends and family.  Many had asked what I would like, but I really didn’t need anything.”  

“I had begun volunteering with Afghan refugees through Edinburgh City Mission, and after attending a Zoom meeting organised by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees and ECM a few months ago, along with other churches throughout Edinburgh, we were discussing ways of helping New Scots families, and one suggestion struck a chord. Gift cards were suggested as people seeking asylum are not able to accept cash but would be able to purchase little essentials or treats, such as a can of coke or some shampoo; something most of us take for granted.”

“I attend Colinton Parish Church and in partnership with our neighbours at St Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church, we raised a lot of money in gift cards at Easter, so I thought I would try something similar for my birthday.  My friends were most generous and £535 was donated at my party.”

Karen further explains the big impact this birthday initiative had on her friends.

“Almost as important is the impact it made on my friends.  Many were interested in the charities helping New Scots and the wonderful work they do, the forms of volunteering I have been doing and they asked many questions and now understand more about the issues. Hopefully some may even have been inspired to volunteer or at least raise awareness of how we can all help out in simple ways, to make our New Scot friends feel welcome. This was a really easy, yet effective way of ‘giving back’ within our local community.”

Revd Nicki McNelly, Rector at St. Cuthbert’s Scottish Episcopal Church was one of those organising  the fundraising efforts for gift cards in partnership with Rev Rolf Billes of Colinton Parish Church at Easter. She reports: “Personally, I was amazed by our congregations’ generosity, the speed at which large funds were raised, and it was an honour to deliver them by hand with Rolf and meet some of the resilient men living in the hotels. It was a privilege to hear some of their stories and it was very humbling to hear the difficult decisions and hardships they have faced.”

In June, The Salvation Army launched a voucher scheme for asylum seekers living in hotels. Their commitment is to provide three hundred £30 vouchers to asylum seekers currently in hotels, and they need your help to make this happen. To find out more click here.

Thanks to the Refugee Survival Trust who will ensure the vouchers raised by Karen reach families seeking asylum in Glasgow who are most in need.

Other churches who have raised money for vouchers for people seeking asylum include Bellevue Chapel and St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church.

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