Bishop backs Jesuit Refugee Service UK's Lent Appeal for refugees facing destitution

February 15, 2024

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Catholic Bishop for Migrants and Refugees in England and Wales, has welcomed the friendship extended by the Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS UK) to refugees facing destitution. He was speaking during a visit to meet refugee friends, volunteers, and staff at the JRS UK centre in East London.

While he was at the centre, Bishop Paul joined volunteers at the ‘JRS Shop’ which provides free food, clothing, and toiletries for refugees who are facing destitution. Items like nappies are also available for those with young families, as well as winter accessories which are vital for refugee friends at risk of homelessness.

He also met with staff responsible for JRS UK’s accommodation work, which provided more than 3,000 nights of safe and secure accommodation last year, before dropping into one of the English language classes that JRS UK runs regularly at the centre. Last year, more than fifty free classes were provided, supporting almost 100 refugee friends to improve their English.

The Bishop reflected: “People who come here are known as refugee friends – it's a beautiful expression and those I have met today truly experience friendship.”

His visit comes as JRS UK launches its Lent Appeal to support refugees facing destitution.

Many people served by JRS UK experience homelessness, food insecurity, and years trapped in a hostile system. JRS UK offers food, accommodation and hardship grants, as well as casework and legal advice to help people find a long-term resolution to their situation.

Shawn (name changed to protect his identity) is a refugee friend accompanied by JRS UK. He fled his homeland 13 years ago and during this time has spent periods living on the streets, riding night buses to stay warm.

Addressing JRS UK supporters as the Lent Appeal was launched, he said: “One day, when I’m finally out of this situation, I want to help other people going through this. For now, I hope you will keep standing alongside me and other refugee friends. I’m so thankful for people like you, who choose to accompany refugees. Please pray for me, for peace and wellbeing this Lent.”

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