"…I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home…"
Matthew 25:35 (NLT)
In a swift response to the Ukrainian crisis, ADRA-UK launched its appeal for donations and convened a national committee to respond to this humanitarian plight.
Adventist Community Services is now leading this national committee, currently developing operational and strategic plans to assist the transition of refugees from Ukraine to the UK. The remit is to support churches and members in their outreach to the refugees and help in the preparatory measures for welcoming them into their homes and communities.
Three critical interventions for ensuring the Ukrainian refugees are settled into UK life are the following, with the specified leads:
- The Logic Model Theory of Change – Pastor Max McKenzie-Cook
- Cities of Refuge Project – Dr Beatrice Kastrati
- 10-Point Integrative Model (Operational Framework) for Refugee Support – Sharon Platt-McDonald
The aim is to stabilise, acclimatise and integrate the refugees.
The committee consists of Community Services Directors and Sponsors, Mission Presidents, Communication leads (BUC, Conferences, Mission Sponsors), BUC Education Director, and Specialist invitees with skills in planning and project management, ADRA appeals, and outreach.
BUC Adventist Community Services Director Sharon Platt-McDonald is currently working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on the UK response to the crisis, supporting the health and faith agenda.
In this first update on Adventist Community Services' response to the Ukrainian crisis, we spotlight the work of Community Services in the North England Conference in an interview with Dr Beatrice Kastrati – Community Services, Health and Possibility Ministries Director.
SPM – Dr Kastrati, what was your initial response as you contemplated being involved in our Church's response to the Ukrainian crisis?
BK – As a newly appointed Community Services leader just beginning my service to this NEC department, I did not anticipate facing a European refugee crisis right from the start! Thankfully, I can fall back on my experience of leading ADRA Albania for five years, and I feel that the Lord has placed me into this position, at this time, by His divine will and providence.It is vital to remain calm and clear-headed in this challenging time so all work can proceed in an organised and well-planned manner.
SPM – What practical steps did you initiate as a first response?
BK – I praise the Lord that He made it possible to partner with my daughter's school – Broadoak Primary School, which led a special collection for ADRA and transported goods. The name of ADRA and the Seventh-day Adventist Church was published throughout the community.
Apart from supporting the ADRA crisis appeal generously, many private church initiatives have sprung up: a collection of goods and transports to the border regions and Ukraine, special offerings and daily prayer meetings.
SPM – How are you spearheading your entity's preparation for receiving refugees?
BK – We are preparing to welcome refugees into our communities and homes and seek to support all members willing to be hosts under the 'homes-for-Ukraine' government scheme.
SPM – What key steps are the North England Conference (NEC) taking to help address this issue?
BK – The NEC has earmarked an emergency fund that will go towards the Community Services project – 'Cities of Refuge', where we encourage church members to register as hosts and facilitate the visa application process, disseminate information, and support the hosts and guests.
Currently, we are calling for volunteers to offer their time as translators, befrienders, childminders, and people who help with the necessary paperwork of registering with GPs and enrolling children in school.
To commence this project, we need a list of church members who have registered as hosts or are planning to register to ascertain where and what kind of support is required. Volunteers can apply here: City of Refuge Project: Adventist Community Services Skills Survey.
SPM – As we advance, what are some of your immediate plans to progress this initiative's operational and strategic aspects?
BK – We plan to create a database to match Adventist families from Ukraine with Adventist families in the UK. This process will ensure our sisters and brothers from Ukraine arrive in a safe space where they find not only shelter but a Christian home, a safe space, and the Lord's comforting presence.
Parallel to that, the NEC is planning to register as a church entity so we can provide housing space. To undertake this, we are working on an inventory of church properties that might be suitable.
SPM – What has been your experience working with our national committee?
BK – I am blessed to have such able and experienced colleagues who share the same vision and mission! It is lovely to see the immediate willingness to cooperate between all entities – BUC, NEC, SEC and the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Missions. We all believe that a sustainable approach to our crisis response will enable us to provide the best possible care. I feel the inspiring presence of the Holy Spirit and the show of empathy in all our meetings which I enjoy.
SPM – Thank you, Dr Kastrati, for sharing in this first edition reporting on our Church's response to welcoming the Ukrainian refugees. We leave our readers now with the video message that you have provided:
Please keep our national committee in prayer as God directs our plans.