Charities partner to create safety and hope for unaccompanied child refugees

Key Christian charities in Kent are taking innovative steps to ensure professionals and supporters in the area are equipped to welcome refugees, particularly unaccompanied children fleeing violence, persecution or conflict. 

In a partnership programme christened Hat•tê•ḇāh, three charities namely The Children’s Society, Mothers’ Union and Home for Good are coming together with the Diocese of Canterbury to offer training on 29 November. This training will ensure the strengths and expertise of each organisation can be used by professionals and volunteers who may come into contact with young refugees.

The Hebrew phrase hat•tê•ḇāh is used in two contexts in the Old Testament, once to describe Noah’s ark, and once for the basket used by Miriam to keep Moses safe in the River Nile. This serves as an appropriate illustration for the training that will be given by frontline workers from The Children’s Society’s refugee and migrant services. It will equip participants to understand and respond to the issues faced by refugee children and improve understanding of their rights and safeguarding needs.

Speaking ahead of the event, Rt. Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, said: 

`I’m delighted to support this collaborative initiative. The role of the Church in being an advocate for the lonely, oppressed and the refugee has become more imperative  important than ever. In a nation facing cut backs in budgets for local authorities, we need to be creative in how we support young refugees who are arriving as well as supporting those who already live in our communities and face significant deprivation. We want to be equipped to offer “hat•tê•ḇāh”, places of safety and refuge for as long as refugee children and young people need them.’

The training on 29 November is offered free of charge to people who may come across refugees in their work, or who might be influencers of others: clergy, family or youth workers, chaplains and pastoral assistants, and professionals within church communities who work closely with vulnerable children: teachers, lawyers and medical professionals. 

The response to the training has been overwhelming, with over 70 people signed up, and more potential participants on a waiting list for future training opportunities. 

`Our hope is that people who join us on 29 November will feel encouraged and equipped to make a difference to the lives of these vulnerable children and young people. Those who can’t attend are invited to pray with and for us during the day, that children and young people who are facing such danger find the place of safety, the hat•tê•ḇāh they need.’  Mo Baldwin, Head of Church Partnerships for The Children’s Society