A special event hosted by the co-ordinator of Ethnic Chaplaincies in the Archdiocese attracted over 150 people.

On Sunday 5 December many recent arrivals from Hong Kong attended the event organised by Mgr Daniel McHugh, to share their experience in finding school places, housing and jobs, especially in the Solihull area.

Fr Dominic Kavanagh, Parish Priest of St Augustine’s in Solihull, opened the doors in welcome to many Hong Kong families, who had been invited via schools in the Our Lady and All Saints Multi Academy Company.

Bal Dhanjal BNO (British National Overseas), Project Manager for the West Midlands Combined Authority, attended the meeting and though only recently in post, was able to assure those who came of her attention to the issues raised.

And although not able to attend the meeting in person Austin Rodriguez, Head of Stronger Communities at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, also assured those present of his attention to their issues via email.

In response to the unexpectedly large number of Hong Kongers coming (40 families expected, 400 have arrived so far) and other migrants and refugees too, he has recently appointed a New Communities and Resettlement Lead who will be starting work in January.

Working alongside Mgr McHugh in leading the welcome were Sophia Cheung and husband Paul Wong.

They drew attention to matters causing particular problems for the Hong Kongers which arise because of their BNO status.

Feedback from the meeting included: ‘Thank you for organising this meeting. It is good to know that local Churches and the Government care about Hong Kong people in the UK’.

Another said: ‘This meeting is really touching and makes us feel warm’. And another: ‘It provided us with information on those specific concerns and problems we’re facing when settling in’.

Mgr McHugh said: “It was good to see all wanted to have more meetings to deal with Hong Kong issues, but also with the wider public so that they could offer their assistance to the host community.

“The Hong Kongers left the meeting knowing they are not alone, that there are people who care and avenues to explore in order to secure jobs that fit their skills; understanding of the school problems, which is an issue for many in Solihull; and an understanding of the lack of housing, especially social housing, in the area.

“The parishes in Solihull are already happy seeing Hong Kong families coming to Church and playing a part in parish life."