Remember the refugees

13 August 2021

The Trinity Centre in Cardiff is an outreach project of the Methodist Church, based in premises which have been at the heart of local communities for over 100 years. Since 2013 the Centre has been exploring exciting ways of meeting the changing needs of the local community – providing in particular a base for work with refugees and asylum-seekers.  The key to its success has been working closely with partner organisations, developing strong ecumenical links, and responding to the growing need for of a range of support, advocacy and advice services.

There are just over 10,000 refugees and about 2400 asylum-seekers in Cardiff, making up about 10% of the total number of refugees currently in the UK. For context, less than 5% of the UK lives in Wales and only 0.7% in Cardiff. Those fleeing oppression, war, and abuse find their way to the Trinity Centre where there is the space and a range of services to meet their needs.

During lockdown the services offered at Trinity were severely restricted. For many organisations, in-person services moved to online, where video calls and portals became a routine characteristic of life in lockdown. If you are a refugee or an asylum-seeker, however, you do not own a computer, let alone the WIFI to access services online. Where does that leave you in world where several decades of anti-refugee policies have stripped you of your right to integrate within your host nation? ‘Isolated’ has been the frequent reply.

But now the Trinity Centre, with its partner organisations, is getting back to pre-pandemic activity levels with consideration, care, and an overwhelming sense of urgency. There is access to food, clothing, education, advice and social contacts and space and opportunities for fellowship and community building. All of this depends on  the support of the local community, from where the centre also finds its volunteers and its friends – those who hand out food and clothing, provide company, and offer counsel and support. The Centre’s tag line is ‘Bringing Communities Together.’

Organisations such as Space4U, the Welsh Refugee Council, and Made In Roath, are already back at the centre providing much needed services with  compassion and generosity of spirit, based around the Centre’s solidarity with those on the margins, caring for the neglected and welcoming the unwelcomed.

Rev Irfan John, the Wales Synod Enabler for Culturally Diverse Congregations Wales, who advocates on behalf of refugees, and leads the Urdu/Hindi Fellowship congregations in Cardiff and Swansea adds, “Since churches have been allowed to open and physical worship has resumed, there has been a tremendous sense of joy and excitement among congregations, as they have been able to worship in the Trinity Centre once again. The fellowship which meets at Trinity Centre is built up of a wide range of members from asylum seekers, refugees and those who are still striving to build their lives in this country as valuable members of society. After 16 months when there were many times of loneliness, depression, anxiety and uncertainty felt by people due to the effects of COVID-19, the sense of community and togetherness since meeting and worshipping again at the Trinity Centre has brought great delight and happiness.”

Behind the work of the Trinity Centre Cardiff stands the Methodist Church. Trinity has become a focal point for mission throughout the Cardiff circuit. The innovative operating model, with heavy elements of partnership working with other organisations and strong ecumenical links works well, and forms something of a template for other churches to consider. The Trinity Centre Sanctuary Project currently underway, will see the renovation of this much-loved building to make it more accessible and fit for purpose, to offer facilities that reflect how much those who come to Trinity are valued, and to offer a truly welcoming place of hospitality, fellowship and community to all. And so the story continues.

For more information about the Trinity Centre go to Welcome to the Trinity Centre Cardiff