Restore Birmingham is an ecumenical initiative welcoming, assisting and integrating refugees and those seeking sanctuary from persecution. With Trust funding, Restore commissioned a film about their work to assist in training events in local churches, and also a redeveloped website.
Restore, a project of Birmingham Churches Together, aims to welcome, include and assist integration of refugees and those seeking sanctuary from persecution. Restore works to achieve this through befriending, social activities, equipping refugees for work, advocacy and awareness-raising. Trust funding enabled Restore to commission a film of refugees’ stories and a rejuvenated website to enable more effective outreach to supporters and learning materials for potential volunteers.
Restore’s Shari Brown writes:
‘Asylum is a contentious political issue, which is often portrayed negatively in the media and society. Yet ‘welcoming the stranger’ is a key theme running through the Bible. Restore seeks to broaden people’s understanding of the need for people to flee and seek sanctuary within our country. It also encourages Christians to reflect theologically on God’s commitment to the marginalised and what that means in terms of discipleship and church ministry.
In recent years our ‘educational’ drive took place largely through training courses offered to those interested in learning more about refugee issues and those wishing to become befrienders. This has been effective but was limited to the number of participants and largely reliant on the specialist knowledge of Restore staff. As Restore receives far more new referrals of asylum seekers than new volunteers, we were constantly aware of the need to promote Restore’s work to attract more potential volunteers. These volunteers provide compassionate befriending support to the refugees and asylum seekers Restore aims to welcome, include and integrate into life in Birmingham.
We knew it was essential to improve our communications platform. We had a website, which had been kindly designed by a supporter some years ago but it had become dated in style. We also wanted to go further in sharing refugees’ own stories in training delivered to churches and schools, but were conscious of the stress and increased sense of vulnerability involved for many refugees in recounting their stories in person, in public. Putting some of these stories on film offered a potential solution – but to do this well was way beyond Restore’s normal means (our annual challenge is to cover the costs of our activities).
The only way Restore could afford a professionally designed film and website was to find a source of additional funding. At this point we started discussions with St Peter’s Saltley Trust. We were absolutely delighted when these dreams on the wish list were granted funding. Jo Jowett produced for us a very engaging five minute film on Restore’s work with refugees, with contributions from refugees, which we have been able to use in training sessions with churches and other groups. Also, thanks to the team at Morse-Brown Design we now have an attractive new website, which prompts positive feedback. We know that some potential new volunteers have ‘found’ us via web searches, which have led them to our website. Restore has also gained some clients via this route. Thank you for turning our dream into reality’.