Summer is a time to get away for a week or two, thankfully. This summer, let your packing and travelling remind you of the people who are forced to leave their homes because of violence, and who don’t know if they will ever get back. Spare a thought and a few pounds for those who are doing some hard travelling.
Here is Reform’s round up of charities who are making a difference to those in urgent need of help. Do your bit and have a good summer
The all-purpose family mattress
Embrace the Middle East
Embrace the Middle East has over 160 years of experience in helping people to free themselves from poverty and injustice. Today, its Christian partners are working in Lebanon and Egypt to support refugees from Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia and elsewhere by providing mothers with milk, nappies and healthcare, children with an education and families with emergency food parcels. Something as simple as a clean mattress can provide a family with a table and sofa as well as a bed, and prevent the spread of disease. A new mattress for a refugee family costs just £12.
For more information and to make a donation, visit www.embraceme.org/mattress
or call 01494 897950
Heal with stories
The refugee crisis is so huge we can sometimes feel powerless to help, but the good news is that the prayer and support of British Christians is already helping tens of thousands refugees who have fled to Jordan. Bible Society is providing aid to around 35,000 people in temporary accommodation and they are meeting the psychological and spiritual needs of refugees through Bible-based trauma healing.
Munther Na’amat, General Secretary of the Bible Society in Jordan, says: “At first we thought the most important thing was to meet refugees’ physical needs with mattresses, food and tents. But after a while we realised that they needed someone to listen to them.”
For more information and to make a donation, visit bit.ly/bibleheal or call 01793 418222
Rescue from the sea
Médecins Sans Frontières
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to provide refugees and migrants arriving in Europe with their most basic humanitarian needs – from medical care and psychological support to accessing shelter and clean water and organising vaccination campaigns for children. In addition, MSF operates three search and rescue vessels in the Central Mediterranean, already saving thousands of people this summer from the perilous sea that has claimed so many lives. The rescue response is entirely funded by public donations as MSF has not accepted any institutional or government support.
For more information and to make a donation, visit www.msf.org.uk/make-a-donation or call
020 7404 6600
You’ve survived. Now what?
Imagine what it’s like to flee your home in fear. To arrive in a new country with nothing but your life. You’ve survived. But how will you live? Refugee Action helps refugees who’ve survived some of the world’s worst regimes, getting them the basic support they need to live again with dignity. It helps them build safe, happy and productive lives in the UK. This all costs money, but it’s not a hand out. It’s an investment in people’s future. Join the movement for change and help create a society where people escaping conflict and persecution are welcomed and are able to build their own future.
For more information and to make a donation, visit www.refugee-action.org.uk or call
0845 894 2536
Support Safe spaces for women
Since 2013, ActionAid has been working on the refugee crisis in Lebanon and Jordan, with further programmes opening up in Greece in 2015. On the island of Lesvos and more recently in Athens, ActionAid runs women-friendly centres in the refugee camps. Here, women are given hygiene kits including wipes, soap and nappies, so they can clean their babies – often for the first time after a long journey. The centres are safe spaces where mothers can breastfeed in private, and, equally importantly, talk and grieve with women who share their experiences.
For more information and to make a donation, visit www.actionaid.org.uk/refugees or call
There are 95,000 unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Europe. They have fled the horrors of war and disaster but are still facing a multitude of dangers, vulnerable to traffickers and out of school. Every day they become more desperate to risk their lives on dangerous journeys. Bilal fled Syria when he was 14. Making the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, he arrived in Calais a year later. Thanks to organisations such as Citizens UK, Bilal has been reunited with his family in the UK, but Bilal’s friends are among 157 unaccompanied children still stuck in Calais. Thousands are alone in Europe with families waiting for them in the UK.
Join Unicef UK’s campaign asking the government to help unaccompanied refugee children and speed up the process of reuniting families.
Change the story
Christian Aid is working in Greece and Serbia through the Act Alliance. Its partners provide essential humanitarian support to refugees on the Greek islands, legal protection services to unaccompanied children on the mainland and housing support to some of the most vulnerable. The charity is calling on the UK government to take a fair share of refugees and to provide safe routes for refugees to travel to, and through, Europe. Before the UN High Level Meeting on Refugees on 19 September, Christian Aid is launching a “Change the Story” campaign. It aims to challenge the negative rhetoric and celebrate the contributions that refugees make in our society.
For more information and to make a donation, visit christianaid.org.uk/refugees or call 020 7523 2046
Press the Government
To ensure that global leaders do their bit to tackle the most serious refugee crisis since the Second World War, as many people as possible need to stand as one with those forced to flee conflict, disaster and poverty. If you want to see urgent action before more lives are lost, you can push the UK government to play its part in creating a global solution by signing Oxfam’s petition. You can also support Oxfam’s work helping people who have fled violence in more than 20 countries by donating to its Refugee Crisis Appeal.
This article was published in the July/August 2016 edition of Reform.