The situation in Ukraine continues to dominate the news and the human crisis that is unfolding has left many of us feeling at a loss as to how to offer practical interventions and support.
In particular, the heart breaking images of vulnerable children, women and the elderly fleeing Ukraine to seek refuge in neighbouring countries cannot fail to prompt a desire to help fellow humans in these dire circumstances.
In recent days the government has begun to develop, and share information, about a sponsorship programme to enable individuals who might be able to accommodate and support refugees.
It is humbling, but not unexpected, that already a number of queries have been received from parishes and clergy across our diocese about how they might be able to respond.
Diocese of Manchester Support
Manchester Diocese is committed to enabling parishes to be able to engage with the sponsorship programme – and will provide advice, guidance and information from a central point in order that it is undertaken appropriately to ensure that insurance and legal requirements are understood and satisfied so as not to present an unforeseen obstacle.
Archdeacon David Sharples and Alison Moore are leading and co-ordinating our diocesan response. The intention is to provide advice, guidance and support to parishes and clergy in a consistent and accessible way.
The focal point for specific questions and enquiries is via the following email account: UkraineResponse@manchester.anglican.org
As the situation unfolds we continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and for those who are seeking refuge, sanctuary and safety.
Toolkit for Churches Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine
On 15 March the Church of England published A Toolkit for Churches Responding to the Crisis in Ukraine.
It seeks to give advice and guidance to enable parishes, clergy and individual congregants to contribute, in an appropriate way, to the people of Ukraine in their hour of need.
The situation is moving quickly and the response continues to be developed at a national level. This means that the toolkit is not definitive, and is not complete at this stage.
Questions and Answers
A number of questions and queries have already been received from individuals and parishes who wish to respond to the call to support Ukrainian refugees. The following list of questions and answers seek to give clarity:
Q Can empty/vacant parsonages be offered by PCCs to accommodate Ukrainian refugees?
PCCs cannot introduce residents into such properties, as they are not the PCC’s to allocate.
The Diocesan Property Team is aware of the vacant properties that exist in the diocese and have plans in place in respect to each. If there is any opportunity for them to be offered as part of our response this will be managed by the team – there is no need for PCCs or clergy to alert them to the fact a property is vacant.
Q Can clergy offer to sponsor refugees in using clergy housing?
Individual members of clergy can register for the UK Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme via the government website
Homes for Ukraine – Homes for Ukraine – Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine
This does not represent a formal application or commitment.
There are practical and legal matters that will need to be considered and addressed on a case by case basis. These are currently being identified looked into by the Church of England and at a diocesan level.
Any clergy who do register with the UK Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme are asked to advise UkraineResponse@manchester.anglican.org
Q How can individual congregation members volunteer to sponsor Ukrainian refugees?
A: Individuals can register for the UK Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme via the government website Homes for Ukraine – Homes for Ukraine – Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine
Q Can parishes become sponsors?
A: In time the Ukrainian Humanitarian Sponsorship Scheme will be expanded to larger groups and to sponsorship provided by companies, community groups and churches.
Parishes who are interested in getting involved in this scheme are encouraged to register via the Sanctuary Foundation. Sanctuary Foundation | Supporting New Arrivals from Ukraine
This means you will receive updates about the scheme and also sends a message to the Government about the level of support available.
Other Ways to Help
There are two safe and secure ways where your gift can support those most in need:
The first is through the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal which is supported by a number of charities including Christian Aid, the ecumenical relief and development agency of the British and Irish churches. Your gift will help provide food, bedding and temporary accommodation for people who have fled the conflict in Ukraine.
The second is through the USPG-Diocese in Europe Emergency Appeal which is looking to support the front line work of chaplaincies across Europe as well as Christian charities carrying out humanitarian work both in Ukraine and responding to the arrival of refugees in neighbouring countries.
Teddies for Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport Chaplaincy is accepting teddy bears that will be given to children arriving from conflict zones, including Ukraine. For details of what toys would be helpful and where to send them, please read our news story.
If you, or someone you know, can speak Ukrainian, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, German, Czech, Romanian or Moldovan then those language skills could be very useful in translation work. That includes through Translators without Borders who are supporting many refugees in translating and understanding forms and procedures.