What can we do to help the refugees?
September 6, 2015 8:07 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I live in the UK and are trying to think of ways to best do our parts to help the Syrian refugees as well as the economic migrants in Calais.

For starters, I have some very warm women's waterproof duffel coats that I'd like to donate if that would be helpful but it seems most drop off points are for Calais donations and have a surplus of women's clothes. I could ship them to a charity in Greece but they'd probably be better off just receiving the money I would have spent on shipping, right? And we would like to donate money as well, but don't know the best place to donate to.

We also have room in our home and could host a family. Is there a list we could go on of people offering to do this?

Is there anything else we could do that I'm not thinking of?i know at the moment activists in Germany and Austria are driving to Hungary to give lifts to refugees. I think that's amazing, and would love to go and do that but we both work full time. What else can we do to help?
posted by hazyjane to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You could check out the refugees-welcome.net site, which doesn't have a branch set up in the UK but which does have a contact e-mail address for people interested in getting it going there.
posted by kmennie at 8:15 AM on September 6, 2015

Do you have a Facebook* page for your area? A lot is being done in my area through a newly formed and very active group collecting items and delivering them to a wonderful woman who's driving a van over to Calais every week; ringing around for food and toiletry donations (e.g. all local dentists for stocks of toothpaste). I found half a dozen warm children's fleeces at a car boot sale this morning that I hope will be useful as the weather gets colder.

* I don't like to "promote" Facebook but it seems to be quite useful for this purpose (unless it's a time sensitive post and FB holds it back until after the event. Don't get me started...)
posted by humph at 8:15 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's one group, Calais action.
posted by radiocontrolled at 8:31 AM on September 6, 2015

The Guardian put together a guide. Here is a group focused on Calais I found via the Guardian.
posted by hoyland at 8:34 AM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding local facbook groups for organizing. If you can offer any support in terms of driving or connecting organizers with warehouses and drivers, you will increase their capacity to accept and transport additional in-kind donations. Looking at these groups across different areas of the UK will also give you more ideas about concrete, useful steps you can take.

This petition will let Parliament know that you support the UK accepting more refugees. It is also important to petition your local authorities about this issue; this article discusses some of the local action has been taking place. You can register here if you are willing to take in asylum-seeking children.
posted by earth by april at 8:40 AM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

I heard an interview on Radio 4 this morning with a guy who'd been offering his spare room to refugees through Assist, which is based in Sheffield. They may be able to put you in touch with similar projects closer to you?
posted by dogsbody at 9:40 AM on September 6, 2015

I can't find the actual quote but yesterday in a Guardian article there were some quotes from people working for charities on the ground, they said they were overwhelmed by physical donations (mostly clothes), but they had nowhere to store them and no manpower to sort/distribute them. What would be more useful at the moment was just money, to pay for storage/logistics. Doctors Of The World was one of the main charities mentioned.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:10 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks, all, this information has been extremely helpful. I found my local facebook Calais action page and some kind person on there is going to come pick up the stuff we have to donate (warm clothes, camping stuff, plus we went out and picked up some food and toiletries). I've also donated to Doctors of the World and signed up via earth by april's link to host a refugee family. Now if only the British government will do their part and let them in!
posted by hazyjane at 11:41 AM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

"City of Sanctuary is a movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. Our network of local groups includes boroughs, towns and cities across the UK and Ireland, all committed to building this culture of welcome across every sphere of society."
posted by vacapinta at 1:30 AM on September 7, 2015

I work in a charity (not a humanitarian aid one though) and in general we find direct debit regular gifts even more useful than one-off larger gifts because it allows us to budget action over the coming months and years, and although major one-off gifts are obviously wonderful and necessary, people don't realise how much a £5 monthly donation adds up over the years and how much it helps to plan activity when you know that money is coming in. So, my advice would be to consider a monthly small direct debit to a charity that you feel is doing the most necessary work.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:48 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Independent has an article about offering space in your home to refugees.
posted by billiebee at 4:00 PM on September 7, 2015

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