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New course to help churches welcome Hong Kongers 

The interactive six-week Welcome Course from UKHK aims to help new arrivals find information, friends and support as they settle and integrate into their local churches and communities

Welcome Course1More than 100,000 people from Hong Kong have chosen to move to the UK following the introduction of British Nationals Overseas (BNO) visa scheme, offered by the UK Government in January 2021.

The video course is hosted by UKHK project founder, Baptist Dr Krish Kandiah, along with Esther – who moved to the UK from Hong Kong in 2017, and Joanna – whose parents moved to UK from Jamaica. The Welcome Course can be run as a live in-person or Zoom-based course which will build community and friendships.

Each session comprises a video providing light-hearted conversation and discussion starters. The sessions are broken down into six topics: moving to the UK, exploring British culture, making friends, enjoying wellbeing, solving problems and valuing citizenship.

Attendees can develop English conversational skills and confidence, build friendships, learn about British culture, be signposted to services and share their knowledge of Hong Kong culture. 

The course, released in June, is already running in 53 churches across the UK. 

Mary ran a pilot of The Welcome Course at her church in Bristol. She said, 'The participants had a really good time, and we had a good discussion after watching the videos – which were very thought-provoking.  

'I think we could have done with another hour to discuss! One participant even baked Hong Kong bread for us to enjoy with our cup of tea. I would thoroughly recommend running the course in person. All in all, a lot of fun was had whilst we learned together.' 

UKHK is a project of Welcome Churches, an organisation that wants to see every refugee in the UK to be welcomed by their local church. The Welcome Churches Network has over 1000 churches dedicated to welcoming refugees, asylum seekers, and new arrivals to the UK.

Emily Shepherd, Joint CEO of Welcome Churches said, 'It’s expected that over 2.3 million Hong Kong BN(O) visa holders will move to the UK, that roughly equates to the entire Christian population of the UK. The outpouring of generosity by congregations, individuals, and local organisations towards settlers of all kinds in the UK has been just wonderful.

'Our hope is that this course can provide an easy way for every BN(O) visa holders arriving in the UK to be welcomed by their local church. Hopefully, those arriving from Hong Kong will feel more confident in asking for help, accessing services and being able to rely on British friends to provide support and community.'

Sharon Shek, the Baptists Together Hong Kong Response Co-ordinator, endorsed the course, describing it as 'very useful'. 

The Welcome Course is available for free in English with Cantonese subtitles, with each host receiving a special pack to guide them through the six weeks. The course can be hosted by anyone, in any location - online and in person.

If your church or community group would like to host a Welcome Course, visit: ukhk.org/welcome-course-for-churches 

Baptist Times, 27/06/2022
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