When it comes to the refugee crisis, it can feel like a global question that’s more difficult to tackle than ‘if you could only have one Ben & Jerry’s flavour for the rest of your life, which would it be’. And while there are systemic problems that need to be tackled by world leaders, refugees also face everyday problems that local communities can go a long way to solving.
So here are some great examples of when communities have come together and done their bit to support refugees:
1. A Warm Welsh Welcome
Last year the UK government announced a scheme that would let communities come together and sponsor the resettlement of a refugee family in their area. The process is long, and slow, but one community in Wales has pulled together to become one of the first towns to welcome a Syrian family! For more information on community sponsorship, have a look at the government’s website.
2. Family supporters in Sheffield
When families first arrive they are often without the basics – nappies, clothes, toiletries. Volunteers from groups like the Quakers and the Women’s Institute in Sheffield collect these supplies, as well as pushchairs and Moses baskets, and present them as a gift to women and children who’ve arrived in the city. Last year they gave out more than 1000 gifts!
3. Cyclists in South London
London is an expensive city to get around – even more so if you’ve recently arrived and either not allowed to work (in the case of asylum seekers) or struggling to find work. So these clever fellows in Sounth London set up The Bike Project, which donates bikes to asylum seekers and refugees to help them get around town. They also run workshops so that the people receiving bikes can learn how to maintain them, and classes specifically for refugee women.
4. Young Adults in Amsterdam
These folk have taken community building to a whole new level. The Startblok Riekerhaven project is a block of affordable housing made out of shipping containers where half the residents are Dutch, and half are refugees. Together the two groups organise social events like movie nights, learn each other’s languages and even take on managing the housing itself. The whole thing looks pretty cool to us!
5. Tech teams together in Dresden
In Dresden, two tech companies came together to make the Welcome to Dresden app. It gives newcomers information about the city, where to buy food, how to get healthcare and more. The idea is that anyone arriving with a smartphone has support from the moment they arrive in the city. It also helps people to learn German, and is now available in cities across the country.
Take Action Now!
A great way to start helping refugees is to take our campaign action calling on the EU to help refugees resettle safely in Europe – and if you sign up to hearing more from the IRC, they’ll send you some more great ideas of how to get involved in your community!