On Monday 13th November The Children’s Society, the Diocese of Lichfield, Mothers’ Union and Home for Good came together to deliver free training to support vulnerable young refugees in Stoke on Trent, as part of an initiative called Hat·tê·ḇāh.

Hat·tê·ḇāh is a Hebrew term which is used in the Old Testament, and has connotations of safety. Christian communities have a responsibility to ensure that our communities are places where inclusivity is practised, respect is paramount and welcome extended without compromise. Jesus welcomed and included those who were the most marginalised. Throughout the biblical narrative, we see strangers welcomed, and those who are living in fear protected and supported, that they might flourish.

As the global refugee crisis continues, we know there are currently around 200 unaccompanied young people making their home in Lichfield Diocese, with more expected to arrive as part of various Government schemes. The vision of the project is to help local communities in Lichfield Diocese to become places of safety, or places of hat·tê·ḇāh, for young refugees.

The training day was attended by over 50 professionals from across the education, health, social work and voluntary sectors as well as members of church communities. The training was delivered by expert practitioners and young people from The Children’s Society. Participants learnt about the issues facing refugees in this country and the asylum process, improved their understanding of rights and entitlements, and found out how to be more inclusive in their work.

Organisations who support young refugees in the local area took part in a marketplace where they were able to discuss projects with attendees, and signpost to relevant services. These included Hope Projects, ASHA, Sanctus and the Church of England.

It was a hugely encouraging day; many participants were moved to hear the stories of young refugees, and inspired to highlight the issues young refugees face in their churches and amongst their networks. It is our hope that this day will be a stepping stone towards church communities becoming places of safety across Lichfield Diocese.

For more information please contact [email protected]