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Churches told it's not too late to help refugees

It's a year since Archbishop of Canterbury launched a government initiative by housing a Syrian family at Lambeth Palace.

The UK has made a commitment to receive 20,000 vulnerable people seeking protection and the government is looking for community groups to partner with to house and support some of them.

Any faith community can sign up to become a sponsor with a commitment to help with for housing, English language tuition and employment support as well as practical needs.

Speaking to Premier last year, Home Office minister Robert Goodwill encouraged churches to get involved.

He said: "It's a great opportunity to be a Good Samaritan and not pass on the other side of the road."

This week, the charity Church Response For Refugees is holding a roadshow across the country to enable churches to find out more about how they can sign up.

As well as Home Office officials, those at the meetings will hear from Canadian politicians about how the scheme has successfully worked there.

Syrian refugees

Speaking to Premier Mayor David Henderson from Brockville Ontario said: "We're excited about it because it's been hugely successful for us and it's something that many small communities across the country have been part of.

"Faith based groups are the back bone of it and it's working - it's saving lives."

Canada has taken in many refugee families over the past few years.

"You just have to see their response when they sign the papers - the smiles on the faces of the kids," Mayor Henderson said of his experience taking in families.

"Only two weeks before they were uncertain about their future in a warzone and now their only problem is what sort of house they're going to live in."

Encouraging churches to get involved, Russ Rook from Church Response For Refugees said: "We've got 22.5 million refugees in the world right now. We're talking about 24 people being forced to flee their homes every minute somewhere in this world due to war.

"This problem is not going away - it's getting bigger."

More information on how to get involved can be found on the Church Response For Refugees website.

Listen to Premier's Marcus Jones speaking with Russ Rook here:

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