Bishop Chooses Child Refugee Charity for 2024 Lent Appeal

After visiting Baca in Loughborough, in Autumn 2023, to see its work with child refugees, Bishop Martyn decided to choose it as the charity which the Bishops would support for their 2024 Lent Appeal.

Baca is a charity based in Loughborough and Cambridge which provides accommodation and therapeutic care for young people seeking refuge in the UK, without families. The vision for the charity came from a local church after child refugees, who were being housed in unsafe environments, started coming to its youth group. Since opening a house to provide secure accommodation for those young people, Baca’s service has grown and developed so that it can provide young people seeking refuge with the holistic support they need to lead a happy and fulfilling life. 

Baca now runs 11 homes in Loughborough, with capacity for 39 young people, and has two homes in Cambridge. The young people also receive specialised education and training, enabling them to develop their English language, Maths and ICT skills so they can then transition into mainstream colleges. 

Baca also provides art, dance and drama therapy and weekly sports activities like football, cricket, swimming and volleyball. This support enables the young people to begin to recover from their traumatic experiences and improves their mental and physical wellbeing. Each young person cared for by Baca also has a support worker who helps them to develop life skills like cooking, and to adjust to life in the UK, its laws and culture. 

Jimmy Zachariah, CEO of Baca, said: “All of us who work at Baca feel privileged to get to know such extraordinary young people and to see them begin to heal and thrive. Each young refugee we serve has lost the only life they know and has overcome all the odds to reach safety. Their courage is inspiring, but without support they are at extreme risk of harm and exploitation, unsure who they can trust or where they belong.”

“So, it is heartbreaking when we have to turn child refugees away because our resources are limited. We are grateful, therefore, to have been chosen as the Bishops’ Lent Appeal. Any funds we receive from the generosity of churches in Leicester and Leicestershire will enable us to give more child refugees the hope of a better future.”

Bishop Martyn said “I was greatly moved by my visit to Baca in September, and inspired by the life-changing work they do to provide safety, community, and support for young people who arrive in the UK, having fled for their lives, with no family to protect or guide them.

“The rhetoric around refugees and asylum-seekers is often dehumanising, but Baca treats each child and young person as having inherent dignity and unique gifts. Lent gives us an opportunity to lay down any habits which prevent us from fully experiencing intimacy with God and channelling His love into the world around us. I hope this Lent, we are able to take stock of any habits of thought we have that prevent us recognising the Image of God in others, and find ways to honour and appreciate the unshakeable preciousness of each person we encounter.”

You can donate to the Bishops’ 2024 Lent Appeal here.

As part of the Bishop's Lent Appeal, Bishop Saju will be hosting a webinar on 12th March with Jimmy Zachariah and two leaders from within the diocese, Kat Gibson and Revd Claire Goode, who have, in different ways, supported refugees and asylum-seekers. You can register to attend the webinar here.

First published on: 30th January 2024
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