It has been heartening to see the reaction of ordinary people to the refugee crisis. Our government has been slow to recognise the will of their electorate, and is now patting itself on the back for agreeing to take a few thousand of the most vulnerable each year, and for diverting much of our overseas aid budget to supporting refugees who stay in the camps just across the border from Syria. These initiatives are very welcome, and will without a doubt save lives.
But so many individuals have recognised that this is not enough, and, rather than expecting someone else to “do something about it”, have identified a need and leapt in to do what they can. Some people have organised and worked on humanitarian trips to the Calais jungle, to Dunkirk, to the beaches of Lesvos and other Greek islands, and to train stations and borders across Europe, and these initiatives have captured the hearts of those unable to go themselves, who may help fund these missions of mercy. Others have found their own ways of doing what they can: donating money, goods or resources for refugees; campaigning with their Members of Parliament; working with the UNHCR or the British Council for Refugees or supporting their campaigns; initiating or signing petitions; fundraising; helping to make the plight of refugees better known; and many other initiatives where people freely give their time or their money to support those who have lost almost everything.
My husband, son, and niece will be travelling out to Lesvos next week, to volunteer with a Norwegian charity supporting newly arriving refugees. They are giving their time and energy, and other family members are covering the cost of their transport from the UK to Lesvos and back, and they have set up a fundraising page to help with other expenses while they are out there, and to support refugees directly. If you feel able to donate, this is the link to their page https://www.youcaring.com/refugees-in-lesvos-504212 If you are not able to contribute financially, do think of them over the next few weeks, and send them your best wishes!