It is World Refugee day on 20th June 2020, which also falls during Small Charity Week. In recognition of this, we wanted to highlight the brilliant and valuable work that three amazing, small charities who support asylum seekers and refugees are doing.
Refugees are some of the worst affected by the coronavirus crisis. We asked these charities how they are currently able to support their beneficiaries and how donations from small businesses can help them deliver their services.
Some of our clients are actually dealing with this situation quite well as a lot of them are used to waiting, used to uncertainty, and have already formed supportive communities with each other and ways of dealing with an uncertain and sometimes scary situation. Through our regular storytelling and support sessions, we have found there is much to learn from the amazing people we support.
At present we are providing 2,500 meals per week, as well as toiletries and sanitary products to asylum seekers and refugees in Cardiff. Our meals are either being safely picked up at our centre or delivered by staff and volunteers to those who are vulnerable (including those who are homeless, in initial accommodation, or self-isolating during this period).
Our core team are supporting the mental health and wellbeing of individuals through online meetings including: music groups, storytelling groups and support group chats. We are also offering volunteering opportunities to our clients who are able and willing to help us, which has equally impacted positively on their mental health and wellbeing.
Donations are helping us to maintain strong and supportive relationships within the community and cover some of the costs of food preparation and deliveries. During this time, in one week, we are spending what we would usually spend in a month on food, so financial and food donations are helping us massively.
We have found that a lot of our clients are, like many of us, struggling but trying to find calm and sense in lockdown by supporting ourselves and others. We pride ourselves in being able to give our clients a voice and we learn as much from them as they do from us.
Set up a donation to Oasis Cardiff here.
Hope and Aid Direct
At a time where a virus has spread around the world and shown us all how interconnected we are, we need to stay united and provide help, humanity and assistance to all sections of society, particularly those who have suffered through no fault of their own.
COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives. Luckily, many of us have been able to wash our hands, stay at home and social distance in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
But how do you stay at home when you don’t have a home or wash your hands when there is no working tap? Social distancing when you are a refugee is impossible. The Moria refugee camp in Lesvos was designed for 2,000 people but latest estimates put the number of people living there at close on 20,000 people. Sanitation is atrocious, and medical facilities are pretty much nil. Medical teams of volunteers have largely reduced to a handful since many people have returned home, following their governments advice.
In the camps, food continues to be distributed by the army, but food queues are notoriously long and the refugees have to stand in line in all weathers for several hours per meal. The food that they get is worse than poor and with almost no nutrition. Many thousands of refugees are sleeping under plastic or poor ‘weekend’ tents, and now the refugees who are inside the barbed wire fenced official camps are in lockdown and officially unable to exit and re-enter.
Hope and Aid Direct have spent many years distributing aid around the world and we continue to do so with a small contingent on the island of Samos (Greece), ensuring that medical and sanitary products are provided to the refugees there. We are also preparing for the time that once again we can get our trucks on the road and start providing more camps with much needed aid such as shoes, blankets, tents, underwear and hygiene items.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on our ability to operate, not only due to lockdown restrictions, but due to major fundraisers being cancelled and the eyes of the world being diverted away from a major humanitarian crisis, but you can help.
As a charity that is 100% volunteer run, you can be assured that any and all money donated is used for the purchase and transportation of aid as there are no salaries or premises to maintain.
Set up a donation to Hope and Aid Direct here.
NGOs pulled out and the government cut back its support. Food and water shortages occurred and basic services like phone charging and first aid disappeared. Overnight we had to transform the work we did to concentrate on 100% food supply. This became critical.
At the start of the crisis, we were very concerned for people in the camps. Conditions are ripe for the spread of coronavirus, with overcrowding and poor sanitation meaning that people cannot social distance or wash their hands. However, the greater and more immediate impact was the drop off in basic services that the refugees rely on for everyday life (such as food and water).
Our volunteers have been amazing and we have launched an emergency appeal to fund food costs. It has been inspiring to see volunteers continue to arrive, given the personal risk they face, and the impact of the detailed new safety procedures that we have to follow.
As well as distributing food, we have been giving out advice leaflets in seven languages, distributing multi vitamins, soap and hand sanitiser, taking out portable hand washing stations and blankets to keep people warm.
Small business can help by donating resources such as food, toiletries, clothes and PPE, sharing our message internally and on social media, or encouraging staff to volunteer. To sponsor all family food packs in Calais and Dunkirk for one weekend costs £1,000.
We have put together this video which explains how we are helping beneficiaries through the current Covid crisis:
Set up a donation to Care4Calais here.