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St Dunstan’s Church in East Acton and locals helping asylum seekers

A team of volunteers from St Dunstan’s Church in East Acton along with others from the local community are organising a regular weekly drop-in for asylum seekers who need help.

Each week, St Dunstan’s Church opens it doors to provide space to asylum seekers for the drop-in which is run by Ealing and Acton Support Enterprise (EASE).

The volunteers from EASE provide hot meals to those attending and help with learning English as well as providing leisure activities for adults and children.

The church and its volunteers had been helping a group of asylum seekers since February. But the asylum seekers were recently forced to move out of the hostel provided by the Home Office to other parts of the country including Kent.

The church said it had played “an important role in integrating these families into the local community and supporting them as they adapt to life in the UK”.

The volunteers from EASE provide hot meals to those attending and help with learning English as well as providing leisure activities for adults and children.

As well as offering its own help, the church has also been working with charities including Care for Calais, The Felix Project, West London Welcome and City Harvest.

Last week, this group of asylum seekers were moved out of their West London accommodation, with some moving to a hotel in Kent. This raised concerns from the church and local schools over the lack of notice and information given to children and families who had spent the most of the year in Acton.

The Revd Jon Westall, Vicar of St Dunstan’s Church said:

“Since their arrival, EASE has tried to offer a welcome to our new neighbours seeking asylum in this country. Thursdays have not only helped us build friendships with our new neighbours but also with old neighbours, including volunteers from different backgrounds and faiths, who share the same concern and passion.”

He added: “The church’s task has always been to treat other people as we would like to be treated and this has been our aim with our new neighbours. It was a real shock when we discovered they were being relocated from their home for the last year, with only two weeks’ notice. Some only found out where they were going on the day they were moved. People were distraught. I have been able to visit some of our new friends since their forced relocation. My thoughts and prayers are with them at this very challenging time.”

The Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy added:

“The work being done by Jon, St Dunstan’s Church and the whole of this West London community to support this group of sanctuary seekers has been magnificent. I had the privilege of meeting some of them earlier this year when I visited St Dunstan’s. I was particularly moved by their stories of hope, faith, and friendship amidst unimaginable struggles. Like at St Dunstan’s, church communities across London can act as a catalyst to bring together asylum seekers, people of different faiths and backgrounds, charities, local authorities, schools and many more groups.”

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