Thursday, 3 September 2015
Refugee Crisis - Ways to Help
There are some images that once you've been exposed to, you can never un-see them. I have several of these that are burned into my memory, that I'll never forget: an image of a seal cub's head bashed in during Canada's seal clubbing season; an elephant with its face cut off by a poacher, for its tusks; and now an image of little toddler, Aylan Kurdi's tiny lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach - a horrific and tragic end for his search for a better life, away from war-torn Syria.
The photo has provoked a huge reaction, as it should. How many times do we watch awful news stories, think "How terrible", then forget about it and go on with our day? I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but today I couldn't. My eyes are red and swollen from sobbing all morning and I feel sick to my stomach every time I see or think of that photo. This should not be happening - not to men, women and 100% not to children.
I feel so ashamed and useless and I've spent today asking (to myself and to social media) what can we do???
The internet is shamefully quiet on answers to this question, but I would like to thank The Independent newspaper for this article, which is helpful and informative on practical ways to help the refugee crisis.
How We Can Help
Sign a petition
This seems like a pointless and empty gesture, I know, but it's quick, easy, and the more awareness is raised and the more people sign, the more the government will realise our disgust at their ignoring and belittling of the situation. Here are two petitions - there are several more in The Independent article, linked above.
Britain must accept its share of refugees.
Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK.
I often hear people say they can't afford to donate, which makes me really angry. If you genuinely don't have a penny to spare, that's fine, but you - the one crying poverty whilst buying a £4 coffee from Starbucks; don't be a dick. That £4 could buy food, medicine, warm socks, so many things that are desperately needed. Do you really need that luxury coffee? Didn't think so. Donate. Make sure it's to a non-governmental organisation. It's important to remember that the refugees are not just in Calais - thousands more don't even make it that far and are scattered right across Europe. Remember this when choosing where to donate your money, to ensure it goes everywhere it's needed.
Save the Children - distributing essential items such as diapers, hygiene kits and food
Red Cross Europe - providing emergency health services at central train stations
Migrant OffShore Aid Station - dedicated to helping prevent deaths at sea. Particularly poignant after the photo of tiny Aylan Kurdi
International Rescue Committee - improving living conditions by setting up camps
The UN Refugee Agency - providing water, mosquito nets, tents, healthcare
Refugee Action - advice about claiming asylum, the asylum process, asylum support
Info from independent.co.uk
Buy Items That Are Needed
This is a great way to directly help the people who need it.
Here is a link to a listing of some of the JustGiving fundraising pages that have been set up for the refugee camp in Calais - that way you can choose which you want to donate to. With these you donate money, then they buy the supplies.
There are others, such as this GoFundMe page, which lists items which are needed (and those that aren't - helpful).
An Amazon Wishlist has also been set up, where you can directly buy all kinds of items, which will be delivered to London, then driven and distributed in Calais as part of the Kent For Calais appeal. The truck leaves on September 17th, so there's still time to help out.
Again, The Independent article lists more.
If you can't afford to donate or buy supplies, why not volunteer your time. Find out if there's a local group, or organise your own, and help with collections, promotion, driving, anything that's needed.
There are many groups set up around the country to help those in Calais. You can find your nearest one on this map or find more information in this Facebook group.
Talk About It
It's horrifying, it's upsetting, which means nobody wants to talk about it. That's part of how it got so bad in the first place. We must talk about it, spread the word, make the government realise that this is not acceptable, that something must be done. Talk to your friends, family, partners, postman, shopkeepers, anyone and everyone - you might just find that you suddenly have a group of people wanting to help, who can make a difference. Talk about it on social media, use all the hashtags - make yourself heard. You might think it's pointless tweeting about it, but what if your one tweet was seen by someone who never watches the news, and prompts them to donate, or organise a delivery of supplies to refugees? Singularly we may not be heard or make a difference, but collectively we have the power to raise our voices and bellow that we support and stand by all those seeking safety and a better life.
Please don't ignore this - do something. Do it for little Aylan and the countless others like him.
All images used are taken by and are the property of Tiny Grey Cat, unless otherwise credited. The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.