40 years of “great blessings”


40 years of “great blessings”

We give thanks for 40 years of boundless friendship, solidarity and community at JRS UK

14 November 2020

40 years of “great blessings”

On 14th November 1980, then Superior General Pedro Arrupe wrote to all Jesuit Provincials across the world:

“The spiritual as well as material needs of nearly 16 million refugees throughout the world today could scarcely be greater. God is calling us through these helpless people. We should consider the chance of being able to assist them a privilege that will, in turn, bring great blessings”.

40 years on, much has changed. There are now globally 79.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, as opposed to 16 million. Rather than being descried as helpless, the refugees and asylum seekers we accompany at JRS UK are some of the most resilient and resourceful people. Yet, in this milestone year, God is still calling us to accompany, serve, and advocate for the rights of refugees and people who have been forcibly displaced.  For the volunteers and staff of JRS, accompanying and serving refugees is a privilege and has brought great blessings to us all.

Whilst it is somewhat uncomfortable to mark this milestone, our work of welcome is only needed because refugees continue to be greeted with hostility, suspicion and injustice – it offers us a welcome moment to the many generous hearted people who have been part of our mission for the past 40 years: from staff, to volunteers, refugee friends, and benefactors.

Today, we give thanks for 40 years of commitment and dedication which has allowed us boundless friendship, solidarity and community at JRS UK.

We invite you to join some of the faces of JRS UK in reflecting upon our mission and work.

Scroll down for more interviews…


Dallya Alhorri

Refugee Activities Coordnator

If you had to say something that defines you what would it be?  

I’m a person who feels extremely passionate about the work I am doing. I love helping, supporting and motivating people to change their lives, feel better and valued with better ability to face the challenges they are facing every day.

What values matter most in your life?

To do what I believe in, to accept any differentiation between people, NO matter what religion you believe in or what language you speak only to be treated as a human being and keep the earth as nice place for everyone!

How do you want to contribute to your community?

I want to be an advocate for diversity, respect, love and support.

What is the change that you want to see in the UK?

We are all humans regardless of our race, gender and religion therefore I wish to see everyone get a fair chance to showcase who they are without prejudice and instead support and respect from the community for the differences.

Why do you think the work of JRS UK is relevant today? 

I believe that JRS brings substantial support and hope for those who most need it and as seen through my workings at JRS I’ve seen how impactful our work is for our refugee friends. Whether it’s through activities or general support, JRS’s relevance increases each day, especially in crucial global times like now.

How does your work/activity contribute to JRS mission?

The huge impact in their lives by providing support, understanding the challenges and walk with them in their journey during the hardest times they are facing in the UK.

I think that my work helps our refugee friends feel supported and empowered and as though someone is understanding the struggles they may be feeling through their most challenging periods in life. Our work also allows them to know that they aren’t alone and that they are going to be helped through these difficult times.

What does JRS UK mean to you?

JRS is the exact needed organisation that provides tools in which we can put to use in order to provide the needed services for our refugee friends. It has also not discriminated against me due to me following a different religion and instead allowed me to embrace my beliefs freely which has allowed me to feel comfortable and confident in order to be the best me which can provide the best work. My favourite part is being a part of an amazing working team!

Help Dallya to continue running refugee activities like The JRS Community Kitchen

Buy a community meal now

Richard Webster SJ

Jesuit and Operations Assistant

Why do you think the work of JRS UK is relevant today?

In recent years, not just here in Britain or even in Europe, but around the world, we’ve seen both public policy and populist narratives that are deeply hostile to migrants, treating them with suspicion as unwelcome and threatening strangers. Our work is relevant precisely because of the way JRS gives witness to an alternative by offering welcome, friendship, and compassion.

How does your work/activity contribute to the mission of JRS?

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic we have had to temporarily close our day centre which is visited by refugees living all over London. We are now delivering food, toiletries and other essential items directly to them and my role is organising the deliveries that go out from the centre. It is a very practical form of service which also reflects JRS’ flexibility in responding to immediate needs.

What does JRS UK mean to you?

As a Jesuit I am struck by some words spoken by Father General Kolvenbach paraphrasing St Ignatius that, “our commitment to follow a poor Lord, quite naturally makes us friends of the poor.” JRS accompanies some of the most marginalised people in our society with the vision that we come to know each other as friends, each one created in the image of God.

Join Richard in accompanying our friends through prayer

Pray with refugees



Refugee friend of JRS UK

 If I had to say something that defines me, it would be being a mother to my two sons. I would say this is something that defines me because my children are my world and I would go above and beyond for them. I came to this country to ensure that they have a better life experience than I did. I love being there for my children and being able to teach them to have confidence and believe in themselves that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

I have three values that matter most in my life and they’re family, humanity and kindness. These three matters to me the most because they’re what not only defines who I am as a person; but also what I live by on a daily basis. Family is one of the values because no matter what we go through in life; family will always be there to support and guide us. Humanity and Kindness are the other two values that matter to me the most because they’re not only what I live by; but I believe these are values that are important in today’s society, now more than ever because not only has 2020 been a year of more self-awareness and more self-education with our health when it comes to COVID-19 and the significance of BLACK LIVES MATTER. 2020 has also been a year that has shown everyone around the world that we really need to improve in creating a community that thrives on solidarity and that we need to improve on supporting one another and being there for one another in the best way that we can.

How I have been contributing to my community is that I volunteer at the Hackney Migrant Centre and how I plan to continue to continue to contribute to my community is by giving back in the best ways that I know I can; if it’s volunteering etc.

For me, the change I would like to see in the UK is that I want UK to give asylum seekers, refugees, migrants or displaced individuals human rights and give us a sense of belongingness here in the UK as we all have a reason why we want a place we call home and feel safe in.

I think the work of JRS UK is very relevant today because JRS amplifies and advocates for the voices of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and displaced individuals to be heard. Also, another reason why JRS UK’s work is relevant today is because they are doing the work the government isn’t doing when it comes to asylum seekers, refugees, migrants of displaced individuals. As I believe the government ignores anything that relates to people that are going through asylum cases just like I am. Organisations like JRS UK are the ones that not only give me hope; but they also ensure that the UK government don’t forget asylum seekers like me or migrants, refugees and displaced individuals.

JRS UK means the absolute world to me. Without JRS, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Thank you so much JRS UK for creating a safe place for not only my family and I; but for other people that are going through what I’m currently going through. I’m forever grateful to you JRS UK

Help us continue to give hope to refugee friends like B

Buy a refugee the gift of legal advice

Felicia Hughes


What is your relation to JRS?

I first got involved with JRS through the Hosting scheme. I now volunteer weekly at the day centre. Currently, with the daycentre closed due to Covid, I phone a small number of our friends weekly to give emotional support, but am hopeful the day centre will reopen and we can restart face to face meeting.

My relationship with JRS has continued through the pandemic with online morning prayer which I have found very helpful.

What values matter most in your life?

Social justice. I hate the way refugee friends are portrayed as a problem rather than as individuals in difficulty who need support. We live in an imperfect world but we are all able to take small actions that can improve the lives of others.

How do you want to contribute to your community?

I want to support those who are on the margins of our society. I prefer to live in a community that looks outward and welcomes the stranger.

What is the change you want to see in the UK?

I want to see displaced people recognised as human beings of equal worth and treated with respect. At JRS I have met many people whose lives have been put on hold for year after year. They are people with value and our community would be the richer for allowing them to contribute to it

Why do you think the work of JRSUK is relevant today?

I have met many refugee friends at the day centre. They all place a high value on JRS and the support it gives. London is a hard place to be if you are by yourself and homeless and jobless. JRS reaches out a friendly hand of support.

JRS also has a strong mission to advocate for our friends. Legislation can be increasingly unkind, impractical and restrictive, and JRS confronts this.

How does your work/activity contribute to the JRS mission to accompany, serve and advocate for those who are forcibly displaced?

It is important that the day centre is a place of welcome. People may arrive stressed, cold, hungry but they will receive kindness, a warm welcome, a hot meal. My role, like all the volunteers, is to support our friends and give them a space where they can relax and feel safe.

What does JRS UK mean to you?

JRS UK is a place of welcome and friendship and that is as true for me as for anyone else.

Join Felicia in welcoming our refugee friends.

Volunteer with JRS UK


Refugee friend of JRS UK


What values matter most in your life?

Respect, Enthusiasm to learn.

Why do you think the work of JRS is relevant today?

Hopelessness and frustration may build up in the individual when there’s a system that robs the opportunities of people to lead a fulfilling life. JRS are empowering people by supporting and elevating you to higher intellectual framework thus projecting our capabilities and capacities in creative writing projects.

What does JRS mean to you?

JRS give space for people to unlock their talents thus preserving the human beings as they are. The cognitive process of the brain is enhanced by engaging in the activities provided by JRS. Everyone is held in high esteem and valued .

Hear more from refugee friends like Han each week as they unlock their talents

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Will Neal

Detention Outreach Officer

If you had to say something that defines you what would it be?  

I would hope I was defined by my amicability, but I guess that is for others to decide.

What values matter most in your life?

Openness and Compassion. Compassion ensures we encounter people without judgement. Openness allows the possibility for change.

How do you want to contribute to your community?

For me, a community is a place of shared support and comfort. If I can provide these things in any way, through listening to others, assisting with problems, or keeping everyone well fed then I feel that is a positive contribution to my community.

What is the change that you want to see in the UK?

There has always been undercurrents of distrust and hostility directed towards ‘the other’ which both creates and is perpetuated by harmful political and social rhetoric. I would want to see change such that this distrust and hostility are replaced with compassion and openness.

Why do you think the work of JRS UK is relevant today?

The work of JRS UK is, and always will be, relevant whilst we have a political and social system which fails to uphold the dignity of refugees and migrants and forces them to margins of society.

How does your work/activity contribute to the JRS mission?

People are held in detention centres and under immigration powers so they can be forgotten by the rest of society. By meeting and accompanying those held there we hope to show that our friends are not alone; are not forgotten. We assist with any problems that they present us with and we hope to empower our friends to advocate for themselves and we, alongside them, advocate for systemic change.

What does JRS UK mean to you?

JRS UK is a supportive community that helps people in many ways. For some it is a lifeline during a time of need, for others it offers space to explore and express themselves, and for others it is a place for personal and systemic change.

Help Will accompany those held in immigration detention centres at Heathrow. 

Buy a phone call to detention

Rhiannon Prideaux

Emergency Response Coordinator

What values matter most in your life? 

Compassion, empathy, integrity and equality.

How do you want to contribute to your community? 

I want to bring people together to learn from each other and support others to live to their full potential

What is the change that you want to see in the UK?

For it to become a more welcoming and tolerant society. One which sees the potential of migrants and refugees as individuals and nourish that rather than dehumanising and othering people who come here to seek sanctuary.

Why do you think the work of JRS UK is relevant today?  

As immigration policy becomes more and more hostile it is important that organisations such as JRS UK speak out with our refugees friends against the injustices they face and call for change on a policy level as well as working one to one with people to challenges things that are impacting them in their day to day lives.

What does JRS UK mean to you? 

I think that JRS is an antidote to the hostility, negativity and closed doors that refugees and asylum seekers face in their everyday lives and in government rhetoric.  I think JRS creates a safe, welcoming space where people are seen and valued as individuals with their own strengths and weakness and their own hopes and fears.

Help Rhiannon to continue to provide for refugees and asylum seekers

Donate to JRS UK now

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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