People Seeking Asylum or with Refugee Status
Our congregation seeks to make a difference to the lives of people seeking asylum or with refugee status in the UK.
We started this ministry in 2004 when Moses, a young man from Uganda who was seeking asylum, arrived at church and told us his story. The more we heard of his experiences in Uganda, and in the UK since he had arrived here, the more committed we became to finding ways to help Moses and those like him.
Since Moses, others have come to us and we have become involved in their lives: in some cases we have been heavily involved in their campaigns, in other cases we have been less involved but have simply given them the space to be themselves in a safe, supportive and loving environment.
Many of the people seeking asylum that we have worked with have benefited from the excellent services and tireless efforts provided by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU). Time and again this unit has gone the extra mile for its clients and has succeeded where other advisers and representatives have failed or given up. Our church is proud to say we have worked in partnership with them for many of the people we have supported over the years.
We do this work because it's part of our faith. The cost for Jesus of proclaiming the Good News of the coming Kingdom was the cross. That Kingdom that he proclaimed points to the rule of God in our lives and in our hearts, but is also about the rule of God in our world. The Kingdom that is coming is a Kingdom of justice and of peace, where there will be no more poverty, or war, or torture; no more need for people to seek sanctuary, because God's own self will be with us.
So, we pray and we work for the coming of the Kingdom in all that we do; and our work with people seeking asylum is as much a part of our work for the coming of the Kingdom as are our own personal devotions, our own prayers, our own praise and our own worship in church.
In April 2013 we are started the 'First Wednesday' LGBT Asylum Support & Social Group, funded by some grant money we received for the purpose. See the First Wednesday website for further information.
In the videos below, three friends share their own perspectives on how our church has helped them to help others. These short films were part of a series we prepared and showed in church during Lent 2012 - in fact, Andy's film was shown on Palm Sunday 2012 as a round-up of the whole series. Not all of the videos shown in church are shown here for reasons of personal safety and confidentiality, but you will still be able to hear some remarkable insights into why we do what we do:
- You will hear Prossy telling how our congregation gave her the love and acceptance that she needed while pursuing her asylum claim, and how she now works with a voluntary group to give the same hope to others who are presently seeking asylum because of their sexuality.
- You will hear how Nick helped with the Buddies scheme developed by Manchester ChangeMakers so that people seeking asylum can have some degree of freedom in how they spend the tiny amount of money provided to them by the state.
- You will hear from Andy how the church's work over eight years has saved lives and changed lives in the face of a brutal and often unjust asylum system.
These videos are also available for viewing at full size on our church's YouTube channel, along with a number of other videos which reflect various aspects of our church life.
You can visit the channel here.