Kenilworth academic plans to buy house in town for refugees to live in

Prof Margaret Archer, who plans to buy a house in Kenilworth for a refugee family or formerly trafficked people to live in.
Prof Margaret Archer, who plans to buy a house in Kenilworth for a refugee family or formerly trafficked people to live in.

A Kenilworth academic is planning to buy a house in the town out of her own pocket to help resettle a refugee family or previously trafficked people.

Professor Margaret Archer, the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and a professor of sociology at the University of Warwick, wanted to do so after seeing how well Coventry looked after asylum seekers and refugees.

Prof Archer with Pope Francis

Prof Archer with Pope Francis

She is planning on buying a house and getting parish members in Kenilworth to help resettle the refugees that may come over.

She said: “I thought the church is doing great work at the macro level but we’re not doing anything on the ground.

“Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre is a great organisation which provides a range of services for refugees such as English lessons and counselling.”

She put a notice in the Catholic Parish bulletin asking for people to help with the project, called ‘Housing, Help and Hospitality’.

They’re just human beings like the rest of us and they’ve been through much worse than us.

Prof Margaret Archer

Prof Archer added: “What was interesting was a whole different category of people came forward to ask if they could help. I’ve got about six able-bodied people together to see if we can do this.

“The purchase should take place within the next two to three weeks, and I’m putting together a team from the parish to finish the place.

“The whole idea is to mobilise the whole parish to do this - there are all sorts of things that everyone can do together that don’t involve quarrels over theology.

“My real dream is that if we can do this maybe some of the other churches could find someone who was willing to buy a house for more refugees.

“If they’re happily resettled then they’re not going to be a nuisance like a lot of people in Kenilworth might think they’ll be.

“They’re just human beings like the rest of us and they’ve been through much worse than us.”

Professor Archer said the families will need help in learning some of the basic things most people take for granted, such as how to catch a bus, and she hopes that ordinary parishioners will step up to do this should the project come to fruition.

Although she did not want to disclose the address of the house due to “people rubbernecking,” she said it would be located in central Kenilworth and will be a two-up two-down property, meaning it could house either a family of four or two pairs of mothers and children.

The family could either be refugees or formerly trafficked individuals with children.

She also said the house will remain in her name just in case the resettlement does not go ahead as planned.

Even if Prof Archer buys the house as planned, it is unknown how long it would take for the house to become occupied.

The idea first came about at a seminar in the Vatican which Prof Archer attended in 2015, before the refugee crisis, about what the Catholic church could do to help the victims of trafficking. Pope Francis had declared human trafficking was akin to modern slavery.

And after the crisis blew up, Prof Archer felt it was time to do something.