CHURCHES in the Stroud valleys are galvanising their members to respond to the refugee crisis in Calais.

In a message to his church the minister of Minchinhampton Baptist Church Liam Eaglestone said: “As a church, we have pledged our commitment to join with other Baptist churches in the UK in offering hospitality to refugees.

“In just over a week the Baptist family in the UK have offered over 250 spaces to host Syrian refugees.

“The emerging plan is to try and partner with an agency that has experience of this and to let the government know we are ready to host as soon as they change their policy.”

He also highlighted other ways in which people could help including donating clothes and money, writing to their local MP and signing up to Avaaz to offer hospitality to refugees when the policies change.

Baptist Churches in the UK were inspired to offer refugees rooms in their homes after minister and co-founder of church planting agency Urban Expression Juliet Kilpin asked if Baptist churches could each offer five spaces for refugees fleeing Syria.

She herself was inspired after an author in Iceland asked people to welcome Syrian refugees into their homes. At least 10,000 people responded shaming the government which had only said they would accept 50.

Writing in the Baptist Collaboration Group, Juliet said: “If Iceland, with a population of 300,000, can find space for 10,000 Syrian refugees, can our 2,200 churches offer five spaces each and tell our government we can accommodate and care for 11,000 refugees if they will let them in?”

She continued: “Best case scenario, we care for people in their time of need.

“Worst case scenario, we show Baptists are radically welcoming and shame the government for not offering safe havens for those fleeing war.”