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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Christians live as destitute asylum seekers for Lent
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¬†Across the the country churches are taking on the life of someone who is made destitute because they are seeking asylum. For the first week of Lent supporters of Church Action on Poverty's Living Ghosts campaign are trying to live on £5 and a food parcel. The "Endurance Challenge" is part of CAP's Living Ghosts campaign to change Government policies that make those people seeking asylum destitute. The campaign has been rapidly growing and received the formal backing of 60 church leaders last year, including the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. Participants include a whole church in Nottingham, a vicar from Keighley, a family in Kendal, the chair of Church of Action on Poverty, a vicar in Oldham, and people in Bradford, Cambridge, Manchester, Southampton and Nottingham. Revd Andrew Dawson, a vicar from Oldham said: "I plan to take part in an Endurance Challenge of living off £10 for the week beginning Ash Wednesday. This is the value of the food given free at Oldham Baptist Church every week to the 50 or so refused Asylum-Seekers of the Oldham area and nearby neighbourhoods who seek it. Oldham Unity for Refugee Support organise this 'shop' and it is supported by many local people including members of many churches. I am concerned about the injustice suffered by many refused Asylum-Seekers. With others taking part in the Endurance Challenge, I aim to find out what it feels like to live on £10 per week and to draw the attention of others to the plight of Refused Asylum-Seekers living among us.' Anne Forbes, chairperson of Church Action on Poverty, said: "Many people seeking asylum in the UK are ending up destitute rather accepting, however reluctantly, to return to poverty and human rights oppression in their country of origin, once their asylum request has been turned down. Often they end dependent on food parcel handouts and the hospitality of friends here- their alternative is homelessness, with consequent illness, both physically and mentally. The current situation is forcing people into the illegal and informal economies, sexual exploitation and crime. The social, economic and criminal osts are felt by the whole of society. Whilst people are in the UK our values mean we have a 'duty of care' to help people improve themselves (and the country) through paid work. When this is not possible everyone should have access to NASS support, no matter their status. Such a change in Government policy would massively reduce the amount of people who are homeless and sleeping rough, and the burden that this predicament is placing on the whole of British society. Not only is this the best option for our society but for us as Christians it is in keeping with the command of Jesus to offer a 'welcome to strangers' (Matthew 25)." Source: CAP
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