Mothers' Union members have recognised that there is a real and urgent need to ensure that the most vulnerable children seeking refuge in the UK are supported to integrate into our communities. In a partnership programme called Hat•tê•ḇāh, We have have come together in Partnership with two other charities - The Children’s Society and Home for Good in order to encourage churches to support young refugees in the UK. Our joint response draws on our strength and expertise from all areas, through our work and supporters rooted in communities allowing us to understand some of the unique issues faced by refugee children.
Together we recognise that there us an overwhelming desire to help refugee children throughout the Church of England and that communities are looking for support and guidance on how to do this best. Through the hat•tê•ḇāh initiative our aim is to encourage and equip communities to welcome and support refugee children through prayer, raising awareness, fundraising, direct support, volunteering and foster care.
The first edition of Hat•tê•ḇāh: Young Refugee Awareness Raising Training took place in the Diocese of Canterbury. The training was targeted at people who come across young refugees in their work or who may be influencers of others including church professionals and professionals within church communities. The training is designed to equip communities to understand and respond to the issues faced by young refugees and was focussed specifically on the regional needs - in Canterbury's case this was on how to best support unaccompanied asylum seeking children in the UK. Through interactive sessions including quizzes and case study analysis the facilitators shared key information on refugees and systems surrounding them. Group discussions amongst the professionals was very much encouraged in order to share information and stimulate learning.
The first training day was able to target a good cross section of the community, reaching those with professional background and churches. Attendees demonstrated a significant increase in their understanding of issues facing young refugees and an improvement in the attendees ability and commitment to be inclusive of young refugees.
With such a positive response we will be adapting the Hat•tê•ḇāh training and rolling the initiative to other parts of the UK throughout 2017.
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.