Refugee crisis: How you can help
Something has changed.
We know from our work that there are many of you out there who care about the people who have had to flee their homes because of war or persecution. But in recent days, particularly in response to tragic scenes from the Mediterranean, so many of you are coming forward with offers of help and support that our phones are overheating!
Your offers of help have been nothing short of extraordinary. Everyone has a way in which they can help, whether it's financial, practical or lending your voice to show that Scotland and the UK welcome refugees.
We’ve put together a list of what you can do - any of these actions will go a long way to helping to secure the futures of some the world's most vulnerable yet resilient people - ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They are us.
1. Get informed
Refugees, asylum seekers, migrants – these are all people. But there are lots of labels bandied about, and lots of numbers, and these can be confusing. It’s helpful to be able to have some simple guidance explaining what the different terms mean, and what is really going on.
As well as our website, some other useful resources for this include:
And listening to some real Refugee Voices.
Scottish Refugee Council also offers training that can be helpful for those seeking to understand the issues and who work with asylum seekers and refugees, and we offer refugee speakers to speak at schools, colleges and universities.
2. Tell politicians that you support refugees
Contact your MP now and ask them to call on Prime Minister David Cameron to provide sanctuary for refugees in the UK - not just a few, but enough to make a real difference to the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and on European shores.
Refugees from Syria, and many other countries around the world, need European governments to collaborate on long-term planning that will avert future crises, as well as supporting their home countries to
achieve peace and stability. Please urge your MP to call for safe and legal routes for people fleeing, and for resettlement. Contact your MP now.
You can also lobby your MEP in the European Parliament to push for a responsible Europe-wide solution to the crisis.
Or contact your local councillors and ask them to support resettlement of refugees in their areas.
3. Sign petitions
There are a number of petitions you can sign - of course, there is nothing to stop you signing them all! But here are a few to begin with:
You can sign this UK Parliament petition ‘Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK’ – there are already enough signatures to trigger a debate in Parliament, but the more signatures the more seriously the UK Government needs to take this.
You can put your name to The Independent’s petition to Prime Minister David Cameron ‘Britain must accept its fair share of refugees seeking safety in Europe’, which now has more
than 250,000 signatures.
Another petition – which is apparently now the most signed UK Government petition ever –
is this one by Refugee Action – Let's give refugees another way to safety.
If you are a Dundee resident or know folk there, you can suggest that they support calls for the Council to issue a statement welcoming refugees to the city – ‘Dundee City of Compassion’
4. Make a donation
You can of course donate to us at Scottish Refugee Council to help us continue our work supporting and speaking out for refugees. Or show your support loud and clear by buying one of our ‘Aye Welcome Refugees’ t-shirts and wearing it with pride. All profits go to supporting our work.
Solidarity from Scotland to refugees in Greece – Activists Pinar Aksu, Amal Azzudin and Margaret Woods will visit Greece in September and are going to find out what more can be done to help refugees there – you can support their trip.
Wishaw to Calais: This group is travelling from Wishaw to Calais on 16th October to take essential items to people there. You can donate items for them to take.
There are also a host of organisations working in the Mediterranean in a search and rescue capacity, offering relief in Greece, Italy and elsewhere, and supporting refugees and people seeking asylum here in the UK. All of them would be grateful for whatever you can afford to donate.
5. Join live events supporting refugees
There are a host of events happening on Saturday 12 September, the weekend before major European talks on what to do to help refugees. If you can attend these yourself great, sign up to them on Facebook and also do invite all your friends! And you can now also download an 'I Welcome Refugees' placard and take it along to events.
Glasgow Sees Syria: 12 September, 2.30pm at George Square
Edinburgh Sees Syria: 12 September, 2.30pm, Scottish Parliament
Solidarity with Refugees 12pm, Marble Arch to Downing Street
Europe Says Welcome: European Day of Action for Refugees
These events have now taken place - find out how they went here.
6. Join a group to take action
Co-ordinating Refugee Solidarity Action is a meeting that took place at the STUC in Glasgow on 14 September at 7pm to co-ordinate action and support refugees already in the country. You can still get in touch with organisers if you'd like to participate in future work.
And here is a new volunteer-led organisation Scotland Supporting Refugees which will be campaigning for action and raising funds for humanitarian aid to refugees.
If you are a student, you could also join Student Action for Refugees.
7. Use your voice
Say it loud, say it clear: refugees are welcome here. Using your voice to counter negative rhetoric in the media and in politics is one of the biggest things you can do to help.
You can do this in many ways:
Refugee Action is collecting flowers for refugees killed at sea.
Also, if you are on social media, join the conversation, use the hashtag #ScotlandWelcomesRefugees #RefugeesWelcome or #WeHaveRoom, and share any interesting pieces you see about refugee issues.
Above all, speak out! Talk to your family, your friends, your neighbours, schoolmates or colleagues. If people are worried or confused about refugees and what is going on, give them the facts, discuss it, don’t be frightened of having a conversation. More than anything, this is what will change things for the better for refugees and people seeking safety.
8. Think local
Dumfries and Galloway
People in Dumfries and Galloway have been mobilising to help those people stuck in Calais.
Dundee Refugee Support is collecting donations for Calais and is crowdfunding to pay for delivery of donations.
Portobello collection for items to donate to CalAid.
Help is needed to set up destitute women’s shelter in Glasgow – get in touch if you think you can assist.
Local initiatives that you can support include Glasgow’s integration networks, as well as Glasgow Night Shelter which runs a night shelter for destitute men and regularly needs volunteers and support.
There is a handy map of donation points across the country.
Scottish Refugee Council relies on our fantastic volunteers to do the work that we do. If you would like to join the team, please keep an eye on our volunteering page, where we regularly advertise volunteering opportunities and information sessions.
Other organisations, such as Positive Action in Housing, rely on dedicated volunteers.
And finally, as well as donating, you can fundraise for us – in the past we’ve benefited from some inspired fundraising by members of the public. Whether you want to do a triathlon or bake lots of cakes, host a Syrian feast or do a bungee jump, there is no doubt the right fundraiser for you – and we put all funds raised towards supporting and speaking up for refugees and people seeking safety. Check out our fundraising pack to get you started.
For more information about fundraising for Scottish Refugee Council, call Kirsty on 0141 223 7921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re really busy at the moment, so if we don’t get back in touch straight away, don’t worry, your help is much appreciated and we’ll be in touch soon.
If you’re doing a unique fundraising event and have some great pictures, send them to us and we will share on social media.
If we have missed out an event, or initiative, or link that you think is important, contact us and we will endeavour to add it.
Thanks again for all your support.