Hi! I’ve decided to set-up a blog for our Fresh Start project, as a way of keeping people updated about our work supporting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants here in Coventry. The project started in November ’16, and over the past six months we’ve seen God work in some amazing ways. As a (very!) brief summary, here are the main initiatives we’ve established:
- Two free English “Conversation Cafes” – opening churches as a space for people to have a cuppa, practice speaking English, and build relationships in their local area;
- A “Companionship” project, pairing-up volunteers with isolated newly-arrived refugees to both help them with their English, and also to be a friendly face/be on hand to offer informal support;
- A free football session on a Saturday morning, seeking to use football to bring people from different communities together and hopefully build friendships; and
- “Nourish” groups (pictured here), inviting people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to share a meal together, all bringing food from their own cultures.
There have been some real highlights over the past six months. Our football sessions have taken off dramatically, with around 40 guys – 15 local lads from different churches, and 25 newly-arrived guys – gathering every Saturday morning to play football together and build relationships. We’ve started having a meal together afterwards at Coventry Vineyard Church which has been great for deepening friendships, and BBC Midlands Today even came down to cover one of our sessions; you can find their report here.
We have also helped a family of Iraqi Christians, resettled in Coventry last Autumn, to find a church here. They came to our Nourish group at St Chads Church in Wood End, and told me that they’d been in the UK for over two months but felt very isolated; they had no friends or family here, and because of their English they hadn’t had the confidence to go to a church. I introduced them to the vicar and another lady from St Chads, who warmly welcomed them into the church; they have subsequently joined a Home Group there, and say that St Chads has given them a real sense of community, fellowship, and home.
There are numerous other ways that we have seen God work in amazing ways, but for now I’ll leave it as that. I’ll be updating this blog every Friday with a summary of the week, and a list of prayer points; the points this week are:
- For our football session and post-match meal tomorrow, that friendships will continue to deepen;
- For a Syrian friend struggling with his mental health, that God will comfort him and give him the energy to leave the house as his medication leaves him very drowsy; and
- For confidence and peace for my young Eritrean friend, who is sharing his story at a Christian Aid fundraiser on Sunday
Thanks so much for reading; if you have any questions/would like to find out more, please do drop me an email: Matt.Robinson@CovCofE.org ; or call me on: 07443 870617
Two Sudanese refugees enjoying our meal together after football, 29/04/17