As Russia's invasion of Ukraine escalates, churches across the region are responding to the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.
Imagine the fear that motivated Oksana to leaver her homeland. She begged her family to flee Ukraine with her. They couldn't or wouldn't come. "I am just alone here," she says. 'Here' is Poland, the country that has given her refuge.
"Towns in Ukraine are surrounded. Everyone is in fear. Everything's horrible."
It took Oksana eight hours to reach the Polish border, but now she's here, she's safe. She doesn't know what will happen to her family or the province of Volyn Oblast. But she has a warm bed, three meals a day and the essential hygiene products she needs to feel comfortable and stay well.
For every person like Oksana who is safe, there are thousands of others fleeing the horror of war who urgently need your help. Baptist churches across Poland and other neighbouring countries are welcoming increasing numbers of refugees from Ukraine.
You can help open these doors to safety right now.
What difference can I make?
~ £11 could provide a hygiene pack for someone like Oksana, with the essential toiletries they need to stay clean.
~ £30 can provide a night's shelter and food for someone fleeing the war, keeping them safe and warm.
~ £99 can give a mattress, pillow and blanket to someone like Oksana - a place that's hers to rest, recover and find renewed strength for the future.
Through giving, you can help churches in Poland and other neighbouring countries to become safe havens for people who are frightened and fleeing for their lives. You can provide food, a warm bed and a place where they can feel safe. And if and when possible, your gift will be used to help directly in Ukraine.
Baptist Churches and Welcoming Ukrainian Refugees
I was a stranger and you invited me in
Many of you will have heard that the Government have announces plans for a scheme that will enable individuals, churches, businesses and charities to welcome Ukrainian refugees into homes across the UK. The Baptist Union would encourage member churches to stand with the people of Ukraine during this tome of huge distress, anxiety and dislocation.
If you or your church are interested in sponsoring Ukrainian refugees we would encourage you to read more about the scheme here
If you have specific questions that relate to the use of your church properties, please direct these to your Baptist Trust Corporation.
Once you have decided you would like to explore options further, we would encourage you to consider one of the following routes:
Homes for Ukraine - If you know the names and location of the Ukrainian refugees you would like to sponsor, it will be possible for you to apply directly through the Government website. Those you would like to sponsor will be able to fill in a visa application online. This is the fastest and most efficient way for you to bring those you would like to sponsor to the UK as soon as possible.
Sanctuary Foundation - If you do not have a particular person/people in mind, we would encourage you to register an interest with the Sanctuary Foundation. This is a project set up by a well-respected Christian leader, Krish Kandiah, to connect potential hosts with 'Reset' - the Government tendered agency with years of experience supporting community sponsorship projects. As and when a referral process is established, Sanctuary Foundation will help you get started on your journey toward sponsorship.
CitizensUK - We are exploring opportunities for Baptist Associations and/or local ecumenical hubs to partner with CitizensUK to welcome a number of refugees into a particular region. CitizensUK's 'Sponsor Refugees' project is the largest Lead & Principal Sponsor under the existing Community Sponsorship Scheme and their specialist staff will be able to offer step-by-step training and support to the partners.
We are also exploring what might be possible in partnership with our friends at the European Baptist Federation to connect refugees being supported by Baptist Church in Ukraine, and the surrounding countries, with Baptist Church in the UK. Currently EBF are working extremely hard to support churches in their humanitarian relief efforts, so anything around sponsorship may take some time to establish.
Supporting you and each other in welcoming refugees
With the right support, hosting refugees can be one of the most fulfilling and mutually rewarding experiences imaginable.
The commitment it takes to be a good and responsible host to refugees cannot be underestimated. We are extremely keen to ensure that you are receiving all the training and support you will need, and that you have someone you can go to guidance for.
With that in mind, we would like you fill in this form
, Whichever route you choose. By doing so, we will be able to keep in touch with everyone in the Baptist family who is exploring refugee sponsorship/support, ensure you are finding suitable partners, and set up a British Refugee Network to share experience, resource and other forms of support.