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Bishop visits Refugee and Migrant Centre

On Tuesday 11th October, the Bishop of Coventry, the Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth visited Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC). During the visit, the Bishop – who is patron of the centre – was able to observe several of the various activities and classes CRMC offers to refugees and migrants in the city.

Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre was established sixteen years ago with the vision of welcoming all refugees and migrants to Coventry by helping them to rebuild their lives and achieve their full potential in safety and dignity. The centre has expanded greatly since the year 2000, moving from small premises in Hillfields run entirely by volunteers to a much larger building on Bishop’s Street with 35 paid members of staff and more than 80 volunteers. Today the work of the centre has never been more crucial as Coventry has been named as the local authority that has taken the most Syrian refugees.

After a welcome from Sabir Zazai, the Centre Director, Bishop Christopher’s visit began with a tour of CRMC’s units and facilities. Then the Bishop visited an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class. ESOL classes open doors for newcomers to the city by giving them the language skills required to carry out essential tasks such as food shopping, as well as enabling them to build relationships with their neighbours. ESOL classes are run entirely by volunteers and are free of charge to all learners. Next Bishop Christopher called in on a Social Integration session. Social Integration sessions are particularly for clients from Syria and are used to help these clients apply for educational courses, make medical appointments, find schools for children, and support them with anything else they require to resettle and integrate well in Coventry. After an opportunity to meet staff and volunteers of the centre over lunch, Bishop Christopher visited the Men’s Social Support Group. This group gives migrant and refugee men the chance to gather together to socialize, eat and collect used clothing. During the visit, Bishop Christopher had the opportunity to meet with staff and volunteers from the migrant centre and Sabir Zazai thanked Bishop Christopher for his support of CRMC.

Bishop Christopher responded with some words of his own, drawing from the story of the lawyer who asked Jesus “who is my neighbour?” Jesus’ response – known as the parable of the Good Samaritan – teaches us that we must ask the better question “how can I be a neighbour?”, and respond with mercy to everyone in need.

Bishop Christopher says;

"Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre plays a vital role in the city, embodying some of its deepest commitments to peace, reconciliation and sanctuary. I count it a very great honour to be its Patron and it was a real joy to visit the Centre to see its range of work and to meet some of its excellent staff and volunteers."