Feb 14·edited Feb 14

Thanks John, your have unpacked a complex issue really well. Just a few points I want to make or add.

1. As to whether converts keep coming to church after they have been granted asylum it's true a lot do not. But that is complicated because many seek to move to another city, where there is more hope of work, the kind of housing they want and community support from their fellow exiles. We have recently had one such, baptised on what seems a genuine confession of faith, and we have tried to ensure follow up from a church we know in the place he has moved to. It's common and many have debts to traffickers and others that they either need to pay off or go to ground to avoid.

2. I think it could be wise to avoid baptism until refugee satus is granted (not that we have), though that does not stop us sending a character reference letter to add to the file submitted to the home office. But even that is a bit random as case officers are not very religiously literate and some may be hostile to Christian converts as well as over sceptical.

3. The housing crisis is immense and people who are granted asylum are dumped at short notice by the Home Office, giving the responsibility and pressure to already hard pressed local Council Housing departments. At the same time refugees usually have unrealistic expectations about free Council housing, and no idea how expensive it is to maintain a tenancy, or the bureaucratic hoops they need to jump through. And yes this does add further demand to a broken housing market and can be perceived as unfair on other long term residents. But we can trace this back to Thatcher's big sell off of Council housing and massive lack of investment in affordable / social housing by all governments since.

4. The church response, from bishops and others responding to media has been a bit naive and not media savvy, though generally leaning in the right direction.

5. I would have sharper criticism of the Home Office. It has been dysfunctional and harsh as long as I have known it (back to 1980!) and has got worse and worse, as it is overwhelmed by case numbers and the complexity of the system. The politics of using "toughness" as a sop to the white racists in the electorate has been on the agenda since Enoch Powell. But it is really nasty at the moment with the Populist Tories as Bravemann and others lash out at the churches and anybody else who is slightly "woke". We need a very different narrative about migration and refugees... but it is really hard to develop and promote it.

6 The asylum stop the boats campaign is really a minor distraction.. given the huge numbers who come as legal migrants at the moment. I think the government is being cynical and disingenous here. We are coming across a greater number of people who are victims of the developing Care visa scandal. Recruited with UK government engouragement in India, Pakistan and Africa and effectively trafficked to the UK by scam agencies. They charge a fortune and often don't find people the promised work, leaving them tied to a corrupt agency, in terrible accommodation and effectively in debt bondage, with no rights to benefits.

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Excellent - addresses all the questions and more that we had been thinking about when this issue arose. We do hope someone/people who can make things happen pick up on your suggestions.

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