Bishop backs call for refugees minister

Wed 19 Jul 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, has called for a minister dedicated to refugees after a report suggested someone in the role could help implement a new integration strategy.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Refugees (APPGR) report, 'Refugees Welcome?' found that asylum seekers who are granted refugee status aren't properly welcomed.

Bishop Paul wrote a blog on Politics Home which read: "As a nation we had agreed they deserved to be fully welcomed; but our systems often left them bereft and destitute.

"As the report makes clear we have work to do as a nation to ensure that those we have agreed are refugees and whom we believe have much to offer our land are made truly welcome."

The report recommended six areas that a new integration strategy must address. The areas are the transition from asylum support to other forms of financial support and accommodation; teaching English; employment and training; health and wellbeing; access to education; and community empowerment.

Bishop Paul said obstacles to putting the strategy in place must be identified.

He wrote: "For example, once someone has received their refugee status, they currently have 28 days before their asylum support ends. The inquiry heard overwhelming evidence to suggest that this time was not long enough for refugees to 'move on' to alternative forms of support and income."

AP Photo

He also emphasised the need for a minister to deal with a new integration strategy, highlighting that there are many parliamentarians that are passionate about refugees.

Bishop Paul wrote: "A minister for refugees will find a partner in the church.

"It was heartening for me to see evidence of the work of churches and individual Christians during the course of the inquiry.

"We join other faith and civic communities in being committed to playing our part in improving the welcome offered to refugees.

"We are not simply asking the government to do something for us, though obviously this report does recommend specific action from the government.

"Instead, this report is an invitation to work together, so that the whole of British society can benefit from the full contribution of those whom have chosen Britain and have been chosen by Britain."

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