“Learn English to counter hostility”, Salford Bishop encourages refugees

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Bishop John Arnold of Salford Diocese made his first visit to the asylum seeker charity Revive last week. He went to see first-hand how Revive are co-ordinating practical aid for asylum seekers and refugees in Manchester and Salford.

He met with the staff and volunteers at Revive’s drop in centre in Kersal, where the marginalised are given advice, practical help, referrals, and a place to socialise. He then visited the Revive offices in Beswick, where there is an Immigration Department.

As Bishop Arnold addressed the refugees present at the drop in centre, Fr Uchenna Odenigbo translated. “Always hold on to hope. Life has been difficult and you’re looking for a better life with us. I wish my country was a little bit more welcoming, but I say you are welcome here. I want you to be easily accepted and to find work, so I would encourage you to learn English. Here we are terrible with languages, so to learn our language will really help you. ”

Revive is a member of the Caritas Diocese of Salford network of charities. Revive, run by the Spiritans, are lead partners in the Diocese’s work with refugees. Its work relies heavily on a workforce of 37 volunteers from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as student placements.

Anna Turner, the Social Work Co-Ordinator at Revive, told Bishop Arnold about the daily reality of running the charity, as well as some of the issues and challenges it faces. “Accommodation is a real problem, especially with Housing Benefit stopping for those aged under 23 years,” she explained.

“Refugees and asylum seekers find it hard to integrate here,” she went on. “There is a real culture shock when educated solicitors and doctors are placed in night shelters with people addicted to drugs or alcohol.”

Bishop Arnold was struck by the variety of nationalities and people from different religious backgrounds working together to help those most in need. “This is a truly cosmopolitan response to a cosmopolitan problem – this is what’s so great about Manchester. What you’re doing here is so important for the integration and empowerment of refugees. This is how I see the Church being missionary – it’s very impressive.”

To learn more about the work of Revive, visit: revive-uk.org 

To learn about Caritas Salford Diocese, visit: caritassalford.org.uk