10 more positive stories of refugees and charities making a difference this Christmas

To celebrate the incredible work of our friends and partners in the sector on International Migrants Day, we put together a list of ten individuals and organisations making a difference to the lives of displaced people this Christmas. There are so many brilliant stories that we had to make another list! Here are another ten ways in which refugees and those who advocate for them are spreading joy and hope over the festive season.

1. A year of good food

Refugee Community Kitchen have designed a beautiful calendar for 2021, featuring 12 delicious recipes that have been cooked in Calais by the talented chefs and volunteers who feed the displaced people living there. Proceeds from the calendar will go directly towards helping feed those in need, both in Calais and in the UK.

2. Former clients giving back

Former clients of Freedom From Torture are giving back to the community by playing Santa to fellow torture survivors. Chancelle is one of the volunteers who has been busy delivering donated Christmas presents. She said, “I know what it’s like to be rebuilding your life in the UK, waiting on your asylum claim, and spending winter alone. I know how much it can mean when someone’s there for you. It’s great to be able to give something back and be there for someone.”

 

Former client, Chancelle, delivering gifts

3. Volunteering hero

After fleeing Iran, Nima Moradi arrived in London three months ago and has been volunteering in his local community since. When living in the Vathy Refugee Camp in Samos, Greece, Nima was volunteering with Project Armonia, an NGO founded to provide meals to the most vulnerable. He became a coordinator there and, even though he’s left, they still call him for help placing food orders or working out menus. In London he came to live with Amber Bauer, founder of Donate4Refugees, and began volunteering with her at Croydon Nightwatch helping to feed the homeless. His kindness and generosity to others has seen him featured on BBC Morning Live!

4. Lockdown Lights

Refugees at Home are celebrating their incredible host volunteers with their Instagram series #LockdownLights. The UK based charity connects those with a spare room in their home with asylum seekers and refugees in need of accommodation. Lockdown Lights is celebrating these connections by sharing photos of hosts and their guests during the festive season. In Notting Hill, host Karina is celebrating different cultures and faiths with her Syrian guests, with a beautiful multicultural Christmas tree topped with an Islamic crescent and a Jewish Star of David.

Host Karina and her guests celebrate together

5. A video game with an important message

Khaled and Mohammad Aljawad are brothers from Syria who have collaborated with Stand and Be Counted Theatre and Knaive Theatre to create an incredible short film-meets-video game, allowing the game player to experience the UK asylum system for themselves. Have Your Passport Ready is a virtual experience that puts the audience directly in the world of the UK’s hostile environment using the fun format of a video game to show how difficult and isolating the system is to navigate.

6. Coats 4 Calais

Care4Calais are collecting Winter coats to donate to the 3,000 refugees sleeping rough across Northern France, and the 3,500 newly-arrived refugees in the UK living in hostels, hotels and military barracks, who aren’t properly yet equipped for British winter. The aim is to give each and every one of these individuals a coat to keep them warm this winter. 

Care4Calais volunteers with donated coats

7. Sewing together during the pandemic

Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees (HBTSR) volunteers have been donating their time making face masks, running a market stall and setting up sewing groups – all with the aim of providing refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom have fled war or persecution, with the chance to make new friends and find support while spending time in the countryside. “We started at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis and early on decided that we could demonstrate welcome and support for people seeking sanctuary by inviting them to visit and share activities with local people in our beautiful area,” said the charity’s Ailsa Dunn. “Our reasoning was that people who had fled in fear of their lives might find healing in our beautiful, peaceful countryside and that everyone involved would benefit from discovering their common humanity.”

8. 12 days of STARmas!

Student Action for Refugees are celebrating the hard work of STAR groups across the country with their 12 Days of STARmas posts on Instagram. They have been sharing helpful resources, challenges, spotlighting key campaigns, and sharing what STAR have been up to over the past year. Follow them on Instagram @student_action_for_refugees!

9. Displaced dishes

Displaced Dishes is a book of delicious recipes that have found their way from the Samos refugee camp. Each recipe tells a story of a camp resident’s homeland, and all profits from the book go to supporting the work of Samos Volunteers. First published in 2018, the book has been republished with more recipes, and would make a very lovely Christmas present!

10. Singing as therapy!

Citizens of the World Choir was featured in the New York Times when they started in-person rehearsals before the second lockdown. Being able to rehearse together again has been transformative for some of the members; Musical Director, Becky Dell, said, “I don’t want to be dramatic, but it makes a difference between a life worth living or not.” Choir member, Sonia Shamlo agreed, “Choir is not just choir for me,” adding that being part of the group had helped her deal with past traumas. “It’s therapy,” she said. COTW Choir held their Winter Fayre & Concert on Thursday 10th December where their members shared their art and poetry and the choir performed some beautiful songs.

We want to say thank you to each person and organisation making a difference during this tough winter season and over this year’s unusual Christmas celebrations. The hope and hospitality which you are offering is an inspiration to all of us!

Author Anna Lincoln

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