From fear to safety: An exploration of the theological imperative to offer welcome to the stranger.

Children outside a school

Our collection of theological essays, From fear to safety: An exploration of the theological imperative to offer welcome to the stranger, has brought together Bishop Trevor Willmott, Anne Richards and Mo Baldwin to wrestle with the tension between the theological imperative to offer welcome to the stranger and living in a nation facing austerity.

Fear is a valid emotion in times of turmoil, both for children fleeing persecution, violence and war, and communities who feel overwhelmed and under resourced. But, following the Archbishop’s call, Mo urges us to be people of hope, who bring hope and therefore turn fear into safety.

The papers explore the idea of being communities of hat·tê·ḇāh. The Hebrew phrase hat·tê·ḇāh is used twice 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. Our vision is for our communities to be places of safety, places of hat·tê·ḇāh, for refugee children.

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Our work with child refugees and asylum seekers

The Children's Society has supported young refugees, asylum seekers and migrants for decades. In the late 1930s, we helped with the housing and resettlement of child refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Over time, of course, the exact nature of our work has changed to fit the reality before us. In 2015, nearly 90,000 children arrived as refugees, without their parents, in Europe. It’s an incomprehensible figure and a dark reality.

In response, in 2015/16:

  • We worked intensively with 674 children and young people who were refugees or asylum seekers.
  • We conducted 777 group work sessions on issues related to seeking asylum, including discrimination, housing and benefits.
  • We published the report Not Just a Temporary Fix which made the case for better long-term support for separated migrant children.
  • We also successfully campaigned against Government proposals to remove support from families whose application for asylum has been denied.