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Safe Haven in the City

Woman in city

A new project in central Birmingham, will offer hospitality and safe shelter to vulnerable female asylum seekers without recourse to public funds.

Opening in July 2016, Fatima House will offer sanctuary to women who are extremely vulnerable, having been forced to flee from their country of origin. The project will provide short-term accommodation to women who are appealing asylum applications.

Women will be referred to the service by local agencies specialising in support for asylum seekers. They will be able to stay for a maximum of six months, except in very exceptional circumstances, during which time the staff and volunteers at Fatima House, together with the referring agencies, will ensure their basic needs are met.

The project has been developed in response to the ongoing refugee crisis. In 2015, the Archdiocese of Birmingham investigated ways in which it could support new refugees, as well as the many destitute asylum seekers who are already here. As well as monetary donations, many people offered support through volunteering, food and accommodation. One such offer came from a parish priest in Birmingham, who proposed that a parish property could be used to house refugees.

Since that initial offer was made, the project has expanded substantially with other interested parties coming on board to support with developing and managing the scheme. Building works are already underway to change the property to a house for multiple occupancy ready for the first referrals, which are expected in July 2016.

Fatima House is a collaborative project between a local parish, Father Hudson’s Care, the Columban Missionaries and the Archdiocese of Birmingham. Columban Missionaries will be on site daily to undertake the day-to-day running of Fatima House. Father Hudson’s Care will be responsible for governance of the project, as well as organising and chairing the Management Committee and Steering Group. The committee and steering group will be made up of representatives from the founding partners, volunteers, parishioners and other agencies specialising in supporting asylum seekers.

Archbishop Bernard Longley is supportive of the project, saying “during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, His Holiness Pope Francis has encouraged every Catholic diocese throughout the world to establish a charitable project as ‘an institutional expression of mercy.’ I pray that the work of Fatima House will be just such a sign and expression of God’s merciful love and of hope to all the women it will serve in the years ahead. I am grateful for this fruitful collaboration between Caritas Archdiocese of Birmingham, Father Hudson’s Care, the Clergy and Parishioners of St Anne’s, Digbeth and the Columban Lay Missionaries.”

Andy Quinn, CEO of Father Hudson’s Care, said, “I’m delighted to belong to an Archdiocese that responds so effectively and generously to such great need. All the partners involved bring something valuable to the table to ensure that the women who stay here on their arduous journey to safety are able to sit round a table and not on the street in despair. For me too it was very encouraging that our trustees at Father Hudson’s care agreed so readily to this new work, which sits so well with our long-time commitment to refugees and asylum seekers in our work with other partners at Brushstrokes.”

Volunteers will play a vital role at Fatima House by providing services and befriending. Anyone wishing to volunteer should email volunteers@fatherhudsons.org.uk

Fatima House are also appealing for donations from companies and individuals. If you would like to make a donation or want to know more about the project please email fatimahouse@fatherhudsons.org.uk or call Father Hudson’s Care on  01675 434000.

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