A GROUP made up of churches and mosques is praying for donations so a Syrian refugee family can begin a new life in the borough.

Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities banded together for the Redbridge Community Sponsorship partnership to launch the mercy mission and “adopt” a family who will start a new life in Redbridge - away from the ravages of civil war.

Activists have raised nearly £8,000 after a year of campaigning, but still need £1,200 before Christmas to reach their target.

Qaiser Malik, of Woodford Green, who is involved on behalf of South Woodford Mosque, said it was important for communities to show Britain was a caring country after tragic and momentous national political incidents.

He said: “I think we need to portray Britain as a caring and just country as we have has been wrongly represented after Brexit and Jo Cox.

"After these incidents we want to put things right and the community sponsors and takes care of a refugee family to get the right image.

"After Brexit, there were a lot of negative vibes abut refugees. There were lots of attacks on immigrants.

“In previous cases a single organisation did the application but here in Redbridge we have done a unique thing. All three Abrahamic faiths have come together to take part.

“I think this is a very good for community cohesion and diversity as well. It’s a unique experiment and will be replicated once the first family arrives. Young and old are working together and we are very strong.”

He raised £1,000 last Eid with his family.

Mr Malik highlighted the personally “rewarding” feeling he gets from the project and emphasised people’s duty to help those fleeing Syrian.

He said: “I think it’s very rewarding. I want to make people who are now sitting in camps feel at home.

“People who have been traumatised need support. It’s a human responsibility to help one another.”

Mr Malik said that more families will be sponsored once the first family has arrived.

Campaigners will meet the family at the airport and find schools for their children. The government will pay housing costs and provide the family with a five year visa. 

Redbridge Citizens, a local branch of Citizens UK, has guided campaigners. Citizens UK is a national group that organises communities to act together for social justice.

Organisations involved include Ilford Methodist Church, Balfour Road Mosque, Ilford Salvation Army, South Woodford Mosque, Saint Thomas of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church in Woodford, Wanstead Quakers and lead sponsor Redbridge Islamic Centre (RIC).

Other London boroughs like Enfield and Merton have taken families. 

The British refugee sponsorship programme has been inspired by a Canadian programme developed in the late 1970s to help those fleeing the Vietnam War.