Asylum Seekers - Welcome Place
The Geelong region is the new home of many asylum seekers and refugees who have arrived by boat after fleeing persecution in other parts of the world, and who are awaiting their determinations for refugee status, or have received temporary visas. Many people are separated from loved ones who are often still living in dangerous situations. Without permanent residency, opportunities for employment, education and training are severely limited. The reintroduction of Temporary Protection Visas for those found to be refugees means that the uncertainty and separation is extended indefinitely.
In order to address the impact of these issues, a ‘drop in centre’ was established in July 2015 for asylum seekers and refugees with temporary visas.
Wesley Uniting Church Geelong (Wesley) strives to be a vibrant Christian community, known for its inclusive worship, commitment to serve the Geelong community, and involvement in civic life. Wesley’s priority statement includes the commitment to expand engagement with people who are marginalised, disadvantaged and hurting, and believes that God is concerned with transformation of the human heart; of communities; and of our world, so fragile and so fraught by violence, degradation and prejudice. For these reasons, Wesley supports The Welcome Place as part of its Parish mission.
Activities such as art and craft, board games, computer access, pool, table tennis, gardening and excursions are offered. Comfortable spaces for tea and coffee, conversations and reading or listening to music are provided. Free English classes are provided each Wednesday by experienced English as Additional Language teachers in a voluntary capacity. An evening meal is offered each Friday, and a sense of community is fostered as refugees and people seeking asylum, from various cultures, participate in meal preparation and serving, share food and conversation together and assist with cleaning up.
The Welcome Place demonstrates a microcosm of the 'way the world should be' with people of various people groups, nationalities and religions sharing food, culture, conversation, activities and laughter together. It fulfills the biblical mandate to provide hospitality to people who are foreigners in the land, extend care for our neighbours, and to show compassion and mercy.
Welcome Place participants have had these things to say about the program:
“It’s happy. No tension.”
“There is warmth and welcome.”
“It’s the relaxing room.”
“We come together and have a good time.”
“It’s a place to find friends and find a new family.”
“You people here are like my Australian family.”
“This is the first time since I’ve been in Australia that I feel like I have a home.”
“I came home from work and I felt tired and bored, so I went to bed. Then I suddenly remembered, ‘Oh, it’s Friday! The Welcome Place is open! What am I doing in bed?!’.”
Come down and see us at the Welcome Place on Wednesdays from 10am – 5pm and on Fridays from 5pm – 9pm.
Contact the Church Office on 5229 8866 if you require any further information.