Liverpool Cathedral has launched a new online directory to help Merseyside churches assist asylum seekers.
The web directory www.liverpoolasyluminfo.org.uk,
which has been supported by a Church Urban Fund grant, points churches to local and national organisations that can assist asylum seekers with both practical and emotional support.
Richard White, Canon for Mission and Evangelism at Liverpool Cathedral and who has overseen the project said, “Churches have long associations as places of safety and sanctuary, so they are often one of the first places asylum seekers will go to for security and support. However, churches often don’t know how best to respond to people’s needs. Many churches can feel powerless because they don’t know where to turn.”
Richard continues, “There is a lot of help out there, and sometimes that can actually be a challenge. At worst, a well meaning attempt to help someone can actually cause more problems for the asylum seeker. The aim of the directory is to help churches and community groups pinpoint specific organisations best suited to the person’s needs, and help reduce the stress and anxiety that that person, who is already extremely vulnerable, is experiencing.”
The web directory has been designed to be as user friendly as possible, with a choice of four sections – destitution help and advice, practical help, support and advice and women and children - allowing the user to target specific help. It also features links to guidance from the local PCT and the UK Border Agency.
The directory is also useful for community groups and associations, and it is hoped that they, as well as churches. will link to the directory site from their own websites.
Richard also hopes that the web directory will benefit the churches that use it, “We hope that through use of the directory, churches will become more confident in being able to assist asylum seekers, get to know what is available, and start building their own links with organisations.”