We are regularly hearing about refugees and asylum seekers on the news. There are many people and churches who want to help, but don’t know where to start. Welcome Boxes gives the local Church a great resource to practically respond, to get to know some of the refugees arriving in the UK and to let them know that they are welcome here. It’s what Jesus tells us to do!
Our founder and CEO, Karina Martin, set up Welcome Boxes as a local church project in Derby in 2002. As Christmas was approaching, the church decided to deliver some brightly wrapped shoeboxes, filled with gifts to refugee families who were arriving in the city. The gifts were so much more than the items in the box; they communicated love and friendship beyond language and cultural barriers, making many refugee friends as a result!
The boxes are filled with all sorts of different gifts that say welcome. Toiletries, toys, cleaning products, things to decorate the home… it doesn’t really matter what goes in the box, it’s the welcome and friendship that come with it that mean the most! Ultimately, it reduces isolation and welcomes new Neighbours (refugees) to belong in the community. One Neighbour told us: ‘The Welcome Box has made me so happy because it has shown me that people care – before receiving one, I didn’t know that. It has been so important to me to have someone listen to my problems and offer to help.’
And it’s not just the Neighbours who benefit either, Welcomers often tell us how volunteering with Welcome Boxes has transformed their perceptions of refugees. One Welcomer told us: 'Volunteering with Welcome Boxes has exposed unspoken fears and prejudices in my heart ... My heart is repeatedly softened when I am quiet and listening to individual stories of beautiful, strong, wounded and hopeful souls ... It has been humbling and joyous to be invited into very special, and truly epic lives. I learn so much more than I could ever give'.
Our vision is to inspire and equip the Church to demonstrate God’s love for refugees and asylum seekers through the building of welcoming communities. Welcome Boxes has transformed the local church in Derby, making it more multi-cultural and reflecting God’s kingdom. Other organisations in the city have also come to rely on the services that Welcome Boxes provides; giving the church a powerful voice for change and for justice. We equip and resource the UK Church to welcome refugees into their communities as we believe that newly-arrived refugees and asylum seekers deserve the very best quality of care and support that is on offer. Working cross-culturally always has its challenges and we have years of experience in this to train others in too. That’s why we train all of our Welcome Boxes projects, as this gives the church the best opportunity to provide the best welcome and care to their newly arrived neighbours, breaking down cross-cultural barriers and identifying the specific areas of help that they need. Churches then become partners with us, accessing our support and advice every step of the way.
What We've Achieved So FAR
- We've been running Welcome Boxes for 10 years
- We've welcomed over 1000 refugees and their families to the UK
- We've trained more than 60 local volunteers to befriend refugees
- We've trained 42 churches in how to welcome refugees to their communities
- We have ten churches in our UK network
- We have one church piloting Welcome Boxes in Europe
- Over 1000 people have taken part in 'This is our story: exploring what the Bible says about welcoming refugees'.