Anglican Refugee Support Lead Appointed in Calais

First published on: 5th October 2023

Calais resident Bradon Muilenberg has answered the call for a dynamic and compassionate person to work with refugees in Northern France and has been appointed as the Anglican Refugee Support Lead.

The role is the outcome of a joint partnership between the Diocese in Europe, the Diocese of Canterbury and the Anglican mission agency USPG. It’s a response to the growing numbers of migrants around the Channel ports in Northern France.

portrait image of Brandon Muilenberg smiling in outdoor setting

Bradon has experience in working alongside refugees in France and is ideally placed to work in the front-line role working with people seeking asylum. He will also develop partnerships with local churches, community groups and organisations, local agencies, and charities. Bradon will work alongside the Kent Refugee Officer, and other key contacts in the Diocese in Europe. 

Bradon’s equally important role as a new father which has shaped his experience of the job so far. He said; ‘The personal experiences I’ve had with refugees while volunteering in the ecumenical community in Taizé, and living inside Maria Skobtsova House in Calais have had a transformative effect on me. Three months of being a new father have only made me more acutely aware of the shocking injustice; that so many children in this city in France are profoundly unsafe. I thank God that my son doesn't have to cross the English channel to be reunited with his family. Every child deserves to be secure. Like many parents I believe my son is special, but he is created in the image of God in exactly the same way as those who have already had to flee from war. He doesn’t deserve first class human rights, while they have only the relegated safety of the second class. The normalization of the risk, and loss of their lives should be objected to in the strongest terms.’

Calais is served by the Church of England’s Pas-de-Calais Chaplaincy. Peter Hooper, Archdeacon of France in the Diocese in Europe said: "we are thrilled to welcome Bradon into this new post with the experience that he brings from having already worked within the Calais area. The vast humanitarian crisis that is embodied in the migrant community in the north of France is growing. With Bradon's presence we can be better informed and direct our Christian shaped voices and resources".

“With channel crossing continuing to generate political headlines, we recognise the importance of this role in bringing humanity to those seeking refuge and in countering xenophobia” said Revd Duncan Dormor, General Secretary of USPG. “Being present on both sides of the channel, The Church of England has a unique and critical role supporting this work. We are proud to be supporting this important role and the creative mission partnership between the Diocese of Canterbury and the Diocese in Europe”. 

“This is a crucial time for those seeking safety in France and England,” said the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover. “As migration and asylum remain political buzzwords, we must always remember that behind these terms are real people, real lives and real tragedies. This partnership is one expression of our desire that all human beings are treated with dignity, care and respect, no matter what their story is.”

Also welcoming Bradon is Jonathan Arnold, Executive Director of the Social Justice Network. "We are delighted to welcome the new Anglican Refugee Support Lead to Calais, who will be working ecumenically and collaboratively in Northern France to help those who have fled danger, war, oppression, the consequences of climate change or other dangers to try and find safety. Bradon has great experience working in houses of hospitality and living alongside displaced people. We will be working together to plan new partnerships and projects for those in need. I am thrilled that the partnership between the Social Justice Network in Canterbury Diocese, USPG and the Diocese in Europe can make this happen."

Bradon's role will foster and embed existing partnerships and facilitate new ones, engaging a diverse range of partners: local churches, community groups and organisations, local agencies, and charities.