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

The end of 2020 is finally in sight and as we look to a more hopeful year ahead, we want to take a moment to celebrate the incredible work of some of our friends in the sector. It’s also International Migrants Day on Friday, 18 December and we can’t think of a better way to honour all those who make the UK their home. 

 

During Refugee Week we celebrated the individuals and organisations who were adapting to unthinkable circumstances, and managing to keep making a difference in the lives of displaced people. Now we want to share a list of nine brilliant ways in which refugees and the people who advocate for them are continuing to help their communities, and are spreading joy and hope this Christmas!

1. Feeding families in need

Migrateful has partnered with Mission Meals as part of their Feeding the Vulnerable Programme, cooking at least 80 meals a week, which are distributed to the families of children using free school meals vouchers. Migrateful chefs who all come from refugee and migrant backgrounds, are leading a team of volunteers in cooking up these delicious meals from their countries of origin. Each child receives a hamper of dried goods and staple items to feed their family for four days, as well as these incredible home cooked meals.

Migrateful Chef, Majeda, cooking for families in need

2. Breadwinners on the rise

East London based charity, Breadwinners, has raised over £10,000 to set up two new London stalls, allowing it to support 16 new refugees each year. The project provides young refugees with training and work experience selling artisan bread on its London market stalls and has a new online delivery service, which it launched after the first lockdown. The new delivery service has already distributed over 1,600 baked goods across London since it began, and has seen the charity featured in the Hackney Gazette!

 3. Volunteering for the NHS

Aya Jabbar is an Iraqi national who arrived in Coventry in June 2019 on the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, and has recently begun volunteering with University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, where she is a clinical support assistant. Aya is a qualified midwife and was studying to become a nurse in Iraq. She is delighted to be pursuing her career goals whilst helping the NHS at this crucial time: “I have qualifications but they are from my country, I loved working in the hospital and that’s why I want to continue pursuing this. I am very happy to be given this opportunity.”

Aya Jabbar, NHS volunteer

4. Presents in Peterborough

Peterborough Asylum and Refugee Community Association (PARCA) has been collecting gifts for refugee families in the city to make sure every child has a present to open on Christmas day. Peterborough MP, Paul Bristow, is supporting the gift appeal, and said, “If people can spare a little something or perhaps can buy an extra gift this year when shopping for loved ones – PARCA will ensure they go to a good home. They make me proud of Peterborough.”

Santa and the donated presents in Peterborough

5. Running for love!

Fundraiser, Will Hudson, has been running 33.3km per day for the last month – a staggering 1000km in total – all to raise funds for people forced to spend winter in the toughest conditions imaginable. He has raised over £10,000 for the charities Choose Love and Crisis, and as if that wasn’t enough, he’s somehow managed to make his runs spell out ‘choose love’ and ‘home for all’ on the map!  

6. Christmas Shopping

17 small businesses collaborated with London-based charity Mosaik Education to launch the Mosaik Christmas Shop, raising money to support refugees accessing university. Each small business owner has chosen an item from their collection which will be featured in the online Mosaik Christmas Shop. With each item sold, the small business makes a donation to Mosaik, taking a refugee student closer to their dreams. Beautiful Christmas gifts can be purchased from the online shop up until today, 15 December! 

A print on sale at the Mosaik shop

7. T-shirts for hope

Residents of Hope Projects joined an art class during lockdown and it began something special. The residents found it stress-relieving, and upon seeing how talented they were, Hope Projects launched a lockdown t-shirt designing competition! The designs are now for sale and each artist was given their own designed t-shirt to wear. Hope Projects Coordinator, Phil Davis, said “It’s great to see how proud the artists are that their designs are being taken seriously. This is a rare good news story in the asylum sector.”

 

Hope Project’s t-shirt design

8. Bikes for Refugees

The Bike Project refurbish donated bikes and give them to refugees across the UK. They have been raising money for their Christmas appeal #GiftOfABike, and have already exceeded their target of £20k, which will help them support even more people. They said: “More than a means of transport, every bike donated opens up so many avenues for refugees. It allows them a safe mode of transport, a brilliant way to exercise, wonderful benefits to mental health, and a means to access crucial support services, including food and legal aid.”

9. Reinventing donations

Give Your Best are reinventing donated clothes as gifts for refugee women, restoring dignity and empowering those living in destitution through offering them choice. Refugee and asylum-seeking women can ‘shop’ for new clothes in Give Your Best’s catalogue of donated gifts which are then beautifully packaged and posted to them!

10. Gifts for Refugee Women

Although Women for Refugee Women’s annual Christmas Party has been cancelled due to the pandemic, that hasn’t stopped them finding ways to spread cheer. The team has been busy writing Christmas cards to over 300 women in their network, and they have launched a gift appeal so they can send each of their clients a £20 shopping voucher to make make each woman’s Christmas a little brighter and warmer. 

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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