Welcoming the people of Hong Kong
A new initiative to help churches play their part in welcoming people from Hong Kong has launched
The webpage www.ukhk.org/church is part of a co-ordinated response to the estimated 130,000 people expected to migrate to the UK from Hong Kong this year.
It enables churches to sign up to be a 'Hong Kong Ready Church', which means:
Committing as a church to welcoming Christians from Hong Kong who are looking for a congregation to join.
Offering to help new arrivals who need help settling in by training up members of the church to be welcomers.
More than 560 churches have applied to become Hong Kong ready churches already.
The church section is part of the wider initiative ukhk.org created to help the new arrivals from Hong Kong settle in the UK. The website is a one-stop-shop for all the things they need to know when they first arrive and begin to settle in, including how to navigate the British education system, apply for jobs, register with a GP, travel on public transport, and even where to go for good Cantonese style food.
Dr Krish Kandiah is founder and director of UKHK. He launched the website on Friday (12 February) alongside Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, at St Martin in the Field in London.
He said, 'Moving continents is difficult at the best of times but it is particularly challenging during a global pandemic.
'That’s why we want to welcome the new arrivals here today in the centre of London, conjuring the spirit of the 2012 Olympics, and show off the best of Great Britain.
'In normal times, we would also have liked to put on special events, like concerts, dances, poetry recitals, film screenings, park football matches, picnics, and supper clubs. As it is, we will have to make do with Zoom calls and virtual bonding for now.'
He explained this is the 'fastest and largest planned migration to the UK since Windrush'.
It has come about following the government’s plan to open the door to residents there with its new British National Overseas visa route. Many Hong Kong citizens have already taken up the offer as they no longer feel safe in the ex British colony, governed by China since 1997.
Daniel Korski CBE, former special adviser to prime minister David Cameron, and Vice-President of the Jewish Leadership Council, said, 'Chinese New Year is a chance to focus on the great opportunity but also the considerable challenge of settling up to 350.000 Hong Kongers in the UK. To succeed will require everyone’s support - from central and local government to ordinary Britons.
'The UK has a long history of welcoming people from Huegenots and Jews to more recently Asians and Poles. UKHK is is a fantastic initiative for ordinary Britons to help the latest group, Hong Kongers, to come and settle successfully.'
The Baptists Together Mission Forum, through the Grants Committee, has approved the funding for a part-time appointment for someone to co-ordinate our response. A steering group has been formed and will be meeting on 22 February to progress this. An advert and more details about the role of response co-ordinator will follow.
Is your church Hong Kong ready? Simon Goddard explores how Baptists are responding, and what your church can do - for click here.