ENGLAND: Salesian Youth Ministry of the Province of Great Britain launches new project offering refugees and asylum seekers a vacation
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Youth Ministry of the Province of Great Britain is developing a new project to offer young refugees and asylum seekers between the ages of 14 and 17 the opportunity to go on vacation. Called the Valdocco Project, it was created in response to Pope Francis’ appeals for compassion towards refugees and asylum seekers.
The project also responds to the call by Father Ángel Fernández Artíme, rector major to the Salesians, for Salesian missionaries in Europe to look for practical ways to offer assistance during the refugee crisis, paying “particular attention to unaccompanied minors and young people.”
In response to the migration and refugee crisis that has hit the European Union over the last several years, Salesian missionaries across Europe are creating new spaces and providing services to welcome refugees, unaccompanied migrants and asylum seekers. The new spaces provide a place for these youth to live while new services have been created specifically to help integrate them into their new communities. According to UNCHR (UN Refugee Agency), more than 1 million refugees live in the European Union today.
These unaccompanied youth often face exclusion, uncertainty and hostility in their new communities. They are coming to places where they often don’t know the language or have a job or support network and they face having to rebuild their entire lives. A break from that stress can offer a sense of freedom and normalcy which young refugees and asylum seekers rarely experience.
The team of volunteers and organizers engaged in the Valdocco Project are intent on reaching and providing support for these youth whose childhoods have been upset by war and persecution and who have suffered the trauma of having to flee their homes and come to a new country where their reception is often uncertain.
The Salesian Youth Ministry team met in November 2018 to start planning and developing the project which is expected to take place Aug. 3-10, 2019 in Liverpool, England. Support to help these youth during their vacation will come from local members of the Salesian Family who are educators at local schools or are working directly with young asylum seekers and refugees in the area.
Danny Sweeney, one of the team members, says, “For this pilot program we thought of Liverpool because it is one of the areas of the United Kingdom where asylum seekers often remain missing after initially submitting their application for shelter. As this is a new area for our Salesian Youth Ministry, this experience will allow us to take root in a local community and also, we hope, encourage contact with families as well as with the young people who will participate.”
The managers of the Valdocco Project hope that it will have long-term effects, providing the basis for young refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives in a positive way and fit into society while creating new productive lives for themselves.
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