A website aims to help the 130,000 Hong Kongers expected to arrive in the UK this year to get settled. They see it as an “opportunity for the church to show Jesus' hospitality”.
The situation in Hong Kong has seriously worsened in recent years, due to China's increasing control over the city, which has led to continuous protests in the streets and violent incidents with the authorities.
The approval of the Hong Kong National Security Law by the Chinese government on May 28, along with the first de-escalation measures, brought back the demonstrations, with hundreds of people arrested, included minors.
The National Security Law has also affected evangelicals in Hong Kong. According to a Christian Solidarity Worldwide representative, “if pastors are preaching on issues to do with human rights, dignity, justice, they may find they are on the wrong side of the law”.
Last November, Hong Kong Christian activist Joshua Wong was sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison for organising an unauthorised meeting in June 2019.
In this context, many have decided to leave Hong Kong, searching a freedom that Beijing is taking away from them. Their main destination is the United Kingdom, after the government opened the door to holders of the British National Overseas (BNO) passport.
Around 130,000 Hong Kongers are expected to arrive in the UK this year on the BNO visa, in the largest planned migration to the country since the Windrush generation, who arrived in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries.
Thinking of all these migrants, founder of Home for Good, Krish Kandiah, recently launched the website UKHK.org, which aims to offer information about how to access the health care system, education, how to apply for jobs, or finding a house and a church.
“Are you a new arrival from Hong Kong to the UK? We want to connect you with friendly people from a local church near you to say hello and help you to find a place to belong in the local community”, the welcome message of the website reads.
The site, available in English and Cantonese, “offers a huge opportunity right now for the church to show Jesus' loving hospitality to people who need our help”, Kandiah says in a video presentation.
“Moving to the UK in the middle of a pandemic, when you might struggle with your English when you come with lots of skills in a time of mass unemployment and while race-based hate crime is going through the roof against people of Chinese appearance, there really needs to be an effort to make sure this group of people feel welcome”, he adds.
Kandiah encourages churches to “look for people in your congregation who would love to get involved. With a little bit of training, they can really make a difference. Even if they are shielding or housebound, they could be on the end of a phone and offer someone the help and hospitality they need”.
Over 500 churches have already signed up to be a 'Hong Kong ready church' via the website.
The launch of the website coincided with the Chinese New Year. Kandiah was accompanied by the Anglican Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally.
Daniel Korski, former special adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Vice-President of the Jewish Leadership Council, welcomed the launch of UKHK.
"Chinese New Year is a chance to focus on the great opportunity but also the considerable challenge of settling up to 350,000 Hong Kongers in the UK. To succeed will require everyone's support”, he said.
Korski stressed that "the UK has a long history of welcoming people. UKHK is a fantastic initiative for ordinary Britons to help the latest group, Hong Kongers, to come and settle successfully".