A Willingness to Help

by Gerry Lynch last modified 19 Oct, 2015 11:25 AM

BBC interviews Bishop Nicholas on refugee crisis

On Sunday 19 October, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, was interviewed by BBC local radio on the letter sent by 84 Church of England bishops to the government on the refugee crisis. Although the letter was sent on 10 September, it was not publicised until now because the bishops wished to give the government time to consider its response.

Speaking to the Revd Tim Daykin on BBC Radio Solent, Bishop Nicholas said, “The letter recognises the scale of the problem we’re facing with millions of people fleeing war and violence and expresses concern about that. This is one of the largest movements of people in our lifetime.

“We applauded the government’s leadership in terms of committing to resettling 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years from Syrian camps, but we think that figure is a bit thin in terms of the scale of the crisis and the ways in which others are responding.

“What we’re picking up in our congregations is a willingness to help. So we want to work with the government to offer help to welcome and orientate refugees who arrive here. There are people in congregations willing to foster children or unaccompanied minors, and of course we’ll pray for the government as they try to tackle this really big issue.

When asked had the bishops suggested a specific number of Syrian refugees that should be accepted by the UK, he said, “On the scale of what we’re facing, we’ve suggested a minimum of 50,000 over the next five years.

“These have got to be long terms solutions. There is no point putting in a family who are isolated and not well supported. That’s why this has to be part of a national strategy.”

A National Welcome and Resettlement Board has already been set up by the voluntary sector, and is chaired by the Bishop of Durham. Bishop Nicholas commented, “This has to be a partnership between government and the voluntary sector if it is going to work.”

As of 19 October, the government has not yet replied to the bishops’ letter.

You can listen to the full interview on the BBC Radio Solent website.

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