Counter Flow

So here’s where this post came from… I spent a summer in a small refugee camp in Greece. The camp is still there…  home to 300 refugees; a mix of Syrian, Afghan and Iranian refugees almost half of which are under 16. Since I left a charity called Refugee Support has turned up and set up services in the camp and one way to give to that charity through your Christmas spending is via Amazon Smile who’ll donate 0.5% of your Amazon spend to the charity. Now Amazon Smile is okay, especially if you spend loads on Amazon, however there is some fun to be had when giving to charities supporting refugees!!

So here are 5 ways to spend your money differently this Christmas to give to organisations supporting refugees in Europe… aside from simply donating money directly to those organisations doing great work.

1. Buy someone (or yourself) the Refugee Community Kitchen calendar 

It will cost you £15 and will provide 18 meals to refugees living in the brutal desperate situation in France. The Refugee Community Kitchen are absolute superheroes in Calais where the destruction of ‘the jungle’ hasn’t taken away the need for feeding refugees… it’s only made it a whole lot more difficult and less in the public eye.  The recipes in this calendar will be DELICIOUS!

2. Buy someone (or yourself) a Bag from the Lesvos Solidarity Shop

Sometimes in life I struggle to find things that feel precious. The bags sold by Lesvos Solidarity Shop are different and feel SO precious and beautiful; carrying with them an important story as well as giving back. The bags are created by refugees and locals living on the island out of the life jackets left on the shorelines of Lesvos. Two of the biggest challenges I have experienced in refugee camps is boredom and connecting with local people. This project tackles both by giving refugees work and employing local people living on Lesvos too. I’m guessing sadly these won’t get to you in time for Christmas

3. Give Peas on Earth Christmas cards from St Albans for Refugees

Now I know the shops are a wash with charity Christmas cards; you could describe the situation as being spoilt for choice or simply bamboozling!  St Albans for Refugees is a local UK group sending aid to Syria, Northern France and also supporting refugees in the UK. £4 buys you a pack of 10 Christmas cards. 100% of profits go directly to aid and so more of your money will go directly to those in need…. and there’s a top quality pun on offer here!!!

4. Give to the Stories of Sanctuary on Tour crowdfunding campaign

The Stories of Sanctuary project brings Syrian refugees, local residents and students together in County Durham to create songs together. If you contribute £20 towards their crowdfunding campaign then you’ll receive a signed copy of a Stories of Sanctuary CD in return! This project has a video to tell you more which you can watch HERE. Projects that facilitate connection for refugees settling in this country are so important. I moved from Oxford to Norwich last year and it turned my world upside down… I can’t imaging being a refugee arriving in a new country and projects like this supporting refugees to tell their stories mean that I don’t need to imagine anymore.

5. Buy someone (or yourself) membership to Amnesty International

So this is super cheap at £3 per month and you get an Amnesty International welcome pack and an Amnesty Magazine every quarter. Amnesty campaign globally for the fair treatment of refugees and more broadly for humanity and human rights… but you knew that right! This is one of those things where I’m like… why haven’t I been financially supporting this organisations work forever… I guess it had simply never crossed my mind.

… a sneaky number 6. Buy someone a Paddington Tea Towel from Care4Calais 

Okay I couldn’t help myself! I love the breadth of work of Care4Calais and I love their Paddington Bear graphic… this tea towel is £12 and in between drying dishes it doubles up as a ready made placard just in case we need to hit the streets in March when BREXIT does or doesn’t arrive to remind people that refugees are people too and not illegal.

Have a wonderful December folks! I hope your month is nourishing, connecting and that some of your money spreads joy beyond the gift that you give.

I am exploring the idea of running a new ‘Shoe of Solidarity’ campaign in the new year. The situation in Northern France is worse than ever and the aid is far from plentiful. There are few things more valuable than a pair of dry and comfortable shoes through the winter months. If you’re interested in being involved email me on mail@bicycleaid.org

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