Churches in Croydon are working together to welcome children from the demolished “Jungle” camp in Calais.
Volunteers provided by St Mary’s Catholic Church, St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church and West Croydon Baptist Church, coordinated by the charity Citizens UK, have been working at Lunar House, the Home Office immigration centre in south London, to look after the children as they arrive.
The volunteers have all been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. DBS replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).
Between 240 and 300 children have so far been brought to Britain from the Jungle.
Fr Michael Scanlon of St Mary’s Church said: “The camp is a stain on humanity’s history. We had concentration camps in years gone by, and people are losing their lives in Calais as well. There was a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide a few weeks ago, just because he couldn’t get over here.”
Last week, the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams joined the Anglican Bishop of Croydon, Jonathan Clark, who Citizens UK called a catalyst behind the welcome movement, to greet the first children to arrive at Lunar House. Lord Williams said the UK had a “basic moral imperative” to welcome the children, whether or not they had family here. Fr Scanlon said: “Social justice is part of the journey of faith. We are called to witness the Gospel and to love our neighbours. This story of welcome has provided an opportunity to do so.”
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection