In 2015 many of us with our Bishop were concerned about the unfolding tragedy of Syrian refugees who were compelled to leave their homeland seeking safety and a new life. Responding to this crisis our Bishop created the Diocesan Refugee Response Working Group (DRRWG), chaired by Fr John Lee and Fr Peter Hollins, with a variety of interested volunteer members, and asked them to explore how the Diocese can and should respond to this crisis.
In addition to creating educational resources for parishes (available at www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/rrwg), this group wrote a detailed and robust proposal for a project, in which the Diocese would be the lead sponsor on Community Sponsorship for Syrian refugees. As part of this, they recommended the recruitment of a Refugee Project Development Officer and detailed the specifications for this role. This officer will assist interested parishes, pastoral areas or other community groups to put in applications to directly sponsor a Syrian family through the Community Sponsorship Scheme. We are delighted to announce the appointment of Rosemary Lennon to the newly-created post of Refugee Project Development Officer. We will be hearing from Rosemary in a future edition of Enews. To find out more about Community Sponsorship please see www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-sponsorship-how-you-can-make-it-happen.