Last week, JRS UK welcomed two members of staff from the JRS Europe office to discuss common objectives for the year ahead, and share more about the daily work of JRS UK.
JRS Europe Policy and Advocacy Officer, Claudia Bonamini, and Communications Officer, Sara Garcia de Blas, arrived from Brussels on Wednesday 15th January and stayed with the Jesuit community at the Hurtado Jesuit Centre in Wapping until Friday. During their visit, they met with members across the JRS community, visited Heathrow Immigration detention centres and spent time at our weekly Day Centre for destitute refugees.
Claudia and Sara met with Director Sarah Teather, and members of JRS UK staff to discuss advocacy, fundraising and communications strategy for the year ahead, and share priorities and goals for engagement across the UK and wider European region.
Attending the weekly Detention Volunteer meeting, Sara and Claudia met with JRS Volunteers and listened to their experiences of accompanying some of our most vulnerable friends in detention. This accompaniment was experienced first-hand by Claudia who joined the JRS Detention Outreach team and volunteers on their visit to Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) Harmondsworth and Colnbrook near Heathrow on Thursday; while Sara helped welcome and sign-in friends at our busy Day Centre for destitute refugees. Both commented on the emotional and physical demands of our work, making particular note of the energy with which JRS UK staff and volunteers led the day.
Their visit was rounded off on Friday by joining the JRS communal lunch at our centre in Wapping, which we share together each day, before leaving to catch their train back to Brussels.
Claudia Bonamini said: “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with our colleagues in London and would like to thank the entire JRS UK community for their warm welcome in hosting us. Our visit was an incredibly valuable opportunity to develop common advocacy and communications goals together, witness the hard work and energy of the JRS UK team, meet some of the refugees whom they serve daily, and learn more about the UK asylum process. Unfortunately, in current times, the shocking tactics of the ‘hostile environment’ are not just a feature of UK policy, but indeed a European trend. The need for us to join forces and advocate together for refugee rights is, therefore, more pertinent than ever. We look forward to continuing this close work with JRS UK now and in the future.”
To learn more about JRS Europe and the countries they serve visit the JRS Europe website