Supporting refugees and asylum seekers

A number of parishes across the Diocese of Chester are actively supporting refugees and asylum seekers. We visit Runcorn parish to see how the church community has embraced and welcomed those seeking sanctuary and refugees wholeheartedly, helping them to find comfort in God and community.

John Beaney is a member of the congregation at Holy Trinity / All Saints Runcorn and also happens to be an ex-vicar.  He, along with other members of the church have been instrumental in establishing a welcoming/ongoing support group (not an official title)  to help asylum seekers and refugees. John first became interested in offering help when "A "Liverpool church got in touch with us and asked if we [Holy Trinity] could look after some refugees and asylum seekers who were coming to live in Runcorn".

The circumstances surrounding refugees and asylum seekers are varied and complex. Many have had to leave home (work and family, etc) at little or no notice to escape the threat of imprisonment or worse and there is a particular threat to those who follow the Christian faith in places like in Iran. Their journeys have often been long and difficult, expensive and dangerous, particularly the sea crossings. The stress and trauma of leaving their homeland, friends and loved ones can have ongoing implications on health. 

John, explains that the stresses and anxieties don't stop when they get here "They may be moved around to varying accommodation to places they don't know, in a shared house and often face language difficulties, potential tensions, and even violence. The Home Office system for processing them involves much paperwork and long interviews. Waiting for these, and the results often takes weeks, months, and even years."

In this video, John speaks to three people their parish has welcomed and helped to support. It is only a few minutes long, and therefore barely touches on the enormous gravity of the situation they have endured thus far and are still living with. 

The asylum seekers and refugees are all active members of the church and have expressed how grateful they are for all that the church has done for them. Due to a number of sensitivities and potential ramifications, the refugees asked that their faces be blurred.

Here are some of the ways that the church has been supporting the refugees and asylum seekers in Runcorn parish.

  • Contributed to a fund to buy 2nd hand bikes, gym memberships, clothes, and other necessities.
  • Donated small Christmas presents and vouchers to spend at Christmas and Easter.
  • Helped with airfares for family to come here on one occasion.
  • Invited them for meals and visits to their homes.
  • Helped with conversational English and explained about our country and culture
  • Assisted with various sorts of officialdom.
  • 5 people were Baptised

Vanessa Layfield, Engagement and Inclusion Officer for the Diocese of Chester says “As part of refugee week, and as we reflect on the hardships endured by their journey, I pray for refugees and asylum seekers, for those with some faith or none, that they be warmly welcomed by every church in our Diocese”.

If you'd like to hear more about how your parish could offer help and support to refugees and asylum seekers you can contact our Engagement and Inclusion Officer, Vanessa Layfield or John Beaney. Contact details are below.

Find out more about Refugee Week

Engagement and Inclusion Officer: Vanessa Layfield
T: 01928 718834   EXT: 232 M: 07517 994493  E:

John Beaney


Page last updated: Monday 19th June 2023 3:22 PM
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