It’s taken me a while to sit down to write this. And even as I do, I’m not even sure what I can say. I’ve never been the first to speak up in political discussion – sometimes I don’t really understand why the world works in the way that it does. I still can’t comprehend that human beings can commit pain and destruction upon each other. But, they do – as we all know. The death of Aylan Kurdi struck a deep cord within our household and left myself and Owen equally saddened and frustrated at the current refugee crisis. All too often it is easy to turn the page, close the laptop, press the off button. Nobody likes to see suffering and we are often overwhelmed by our own emotional responses to other people’s distress. I know we were.
It took us a little while to figure out what we could do. Our first instincts were to perform a grand gesture; homing a refugee family perhaps, adopting an unaccompanied child or driving to Calais with clothing and food. After reading several articles and speaking to friends at The Red Cross, the reality was far simpler. Donating was enough.
I think it is any decent human’s nature to want to sweep in and directly help other people in need. But in this case, there are hundreds of people already doing the front-line work needed. I’ve found some practical ways that individuals can help support these organisations – to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe.
1. SPEAK TO YOUR LOCAL RED CROSS
Your local Red Cross will give you advice on the best way to directly donate money to their European Refugee Crisis Appeal. On request, our local RC will email out poster JPEGS that you can print and put up in your local school or place of work, that gives details on how to raise money yourself and how your money goes to help. For more information on the Red Cross’ work with the Syria crisis visit here.
2. DONATE DONATE DONATE!
Your local Red Cross will accept donations of clothing, toys, books, long-life food and sanitary products. Not all donations will go directly to refugees, but they can be sold at Red Cross shops for donations to the refugee crisis appeal – and other donations will go directly to local individuals in need, such as asylum seekers, street sleepers and low income families. There’s never been a better time to clear out your wardrobes and your cupboards.
3. GIVE MONEY TO UNICEF
Unicef are collecting donations to help children directly affected by the Syrian conflict. They are one of the few organisations working inside Syria, as well as delivering aid across the region. Donating is easy. You can do it here. £11 can provide a family with an emergency water kit to help protect them from disease.
4. GIVE MONEY TO SAVE THE CHILDREN
Save The Children’s child refugee crisis appeal works directly with children and families within Syria, as well as surrounding and destination countries. Donations will help provide shelter, clothing, food and water – as well as safe spaces for children to play, learn and receive emotional support. Save The Children also provide training for workers and foster carers, helping to resettle children into new countries. Donating towards aid and support is easy – you can do it here.
5. GIVING MORE DIRECTLY
It seems a common urge to want to directly help the people most in need during this refugee crisis. You could check out Calais Action, who have created a UK map of drop-off and collection points where you can donate directly to support refugees in Calais and Europe.
There are so many individuals and organisations acting to support victims of war and suffering. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with how to help, and end up doing nothing at all. Really, we have done very little here. We ransacked the cupboards of sleeping bags, warm clothes, coats, socks, toys, books and games. We drove it all over the our local Red Cross and have decided to make weekly food donations part of our family routine.
Even seemingly little gestures can and will make a significant difference to other people’s lives.