Rana Toukan - Incubating 12 new businesses at Katsikas

August 6, 2018

One of our trustees, Rana, talks about the people she is helping us to support with our new Business Fund for refugees at Katsikas camp. The Business Fund is the next step in our model to bring dignity and normality to people stuck in refugee camps. It has been an inspiring weekend and a huge privilege to help people with their plans to improve their living standards and, importantly, to gain some independence.

The concept of the Business Fund is simple. One month ago we asked people on the camp to submit a one-page business proposal. We are lending  €1,000 to every viable proposal plus all the legal and coaching support they need to help that business thrive. You can read about the first 12 businesses that will be recipients of the fund during August 2018 here.

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Crisis in Cameroon: Activist Nkenga raising awareness and building peace

July 23, 2018

Over the last 2 years in Cameroon, conflict between the Franch speaking government forces and the English speaking separatist movement has led to huge numbers of internally displaced people and refugees fleeing to Nigeria.

We talk to activist Nkengafrica Ernest, Constituent President of the Cameroon National Youth Council and of the African Patriotic Youth Council Movement, who is calling for everyone to raise awareness of the crisis. It has gone largely unreported in the press and it needs international attention.

There is also a huge need for large scale emergency assistance.

Nkenga also talks about his own story as a migrant, working as a cleaner in the Middle East before going on to get a degree and begin a career as a health and safety professional.

He has now returned to his country to raise awareness of the crisis and assist in reconciliation and peace-building. He can be contacted on nkenga.e2012@gmail.com

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Melina Macall: Uniting the States of America with Syrian food

June 25, 2018

On our recent tour to the US we spoke at a United Tastes of America event in Montclair NJ and were inspired by what the two founders - Melina and Kate - have achieved by bringing people together over food. Their motto is something we'd love to see more of right now: Breaking Bread, Building Bridges.

In this podcast we speak to founder Melina Macall who, together with her friend Kate, was so appalled at the public hostility of their state governor to Syrian refugees in 2015 that they had to do something to counter it. Melina describes how what started as a Christmas get-together for local Jewish and Muslim residents has turned into regular events in people's homes and businesses.

It's a brlliant project where Syrians now in the US get to share their culture, heritage and family traditions. They use the skills and talents they naturally have to meet new friends, help support their families and acclimatize to their new home. 

Programmes like this are now more important than ever.

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On an iPhone: ‘Podcasts’ is already on your phone. Open the app, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe.

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Then, on Monday morning, our show will magically appear on your mobile and you can listen wherever and whenever you want. These apps have setting so that they will only download over WiFi so they don’t use up your data allowance, and they will remove the episode after listening so they don’t take up your memory.

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Refugee Support Europe aged 2: Talk at Montclair, New Jersey

June 18, 2018

Today is the final date in our US tour speaking to supporters about what is possible when people help people and what the latest situation is facing refugees in Europe right now. 

This talk is by Paul speaking at the Bnai Keshet Synagogue in Montclair New Jersey, at the invitation of Melina of the United Tastes of America. She will be talking on next week's podcast about how she and her friend Kate are bringing communities together with food.

Each talk has been different but this one covers how Refugee Support got started, how we have always tried to put dignity first and all that has been achieved thanks of the people from all over the world who have helped.

The slides from the presentation can be viewed here.

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On an iPhone: ‘Podcasts’ is already on your phone. Open the app, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe.

With iTunes: Open iTunes, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe. Or just click on this Apple Podcasts logo and View in iTunes:

On Android: Download an app. We use Podbean but Podcast Addict or Podcast Player are others. Search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click either Subscribe or Follow.

Then, on Monday morning, our show will magically appear on your mobile and you can listen wherever and whenever you want. These apps have setting so that they will only download over WiFi so they don’t use up your data allowance, and they will remove the episode after listening so they don’t take up your memory.

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Sharon Silvey: from emergency aid to an asylum information service

June 4, 2018

Sharon started helping refugees on the Balkan route in 2015 with emergency support, but got frustrated with the duplication and the waste. It was clear to her that what refugees really needed was reliable and timely information about their legal rights and the asylum process.

And so she created Refucomm and that's when her journey began to get great information into their hands. Printed documents didn't reach enough because of literacy problems. Websites and video depended on limited internet bandwidth. Now Refucomm distributes the information on SD memory cards for mobile phones.

Underlying it all has been a philosophy of closely involving refugees in every stage of the information creation and dissemination process. 

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You can listen online by pressing play above. Or you can download it by clicking on the little down arrow.

A better idea is to have our episodes automatically downloaded to your mobile so you never miss one. You will need a podcast or podcatcher app.

On an iPhone: ‘Podcasts’ is already on your phone. Open the app, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe.

With iTunes: Open iTunes, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe. Or just click on this Apple Podcasts logo and View in iTunes:

On Android: Download an app. We use Podbean but Podcast Addict or Podcast Player are others. Search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click either Subscribe or Follow.

Then, on Monday morning, our show will magically appear on your mobile and you can listen wherever and whenever you want. These apps have setting so that they will only download over WiFi so they don’t use up your data allowance, and they will remove the episode after listening so they don’t take up your memory.

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Christa Hobart: Walker, Volunteer and Mom from Buffalo

May 28, 2018

Christa came to Greece in 2015 to do what she could for refugees, like so many of us after seeing the body of Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish shore. She has made several humanitarian trips to Greece with our friends Carry the Future and Allied Aid.

We were also lucky to her along as one of our walkers retracing the refugee route this month before she travelled on to volunteer on the island of Chios. 

We talk about the poignancy of that walk, the enjoyment of being a volunteer and the extraordinary people we've met.

Christa is one of life's smilers with boundless enthusiasm and affection who just had to do something to help and as she says "One person can make a difference."

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On an iPhone: ‘Podcasts’ is already on your phone. Open the app, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe.

With iTunes: Open iTunes, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe. Or just click on this Apple Podcasts logo and View in iTunes:

On Android: Download an app. We use Podbean but Podcast Addict or Podcast Player are others. Search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click either Subscribe or Follow.

Then, on Monday morning, our show will magically appear on your mobile and you can listen wherever and whenever you want. These apps have setting so that they will only download over WiFi so they don’t use up your data allowance, and they will remove the episode after listening so they don’t take up your memory.

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Zoe Papadopoulou: Idomeni’s Greek volunteer movement

April 30, 2018

We worked closely with our good friend Zoe when she was the UNHCR Officer at Alexandreia refugee camp but she was supporting refugees as a volunteer 18 months before that. She was part of the very first response at Idomeni.

As 19 Refugee Support volunteers begin their week long walk to re-trace the refugee route from Idomeni to Skopje, Zoe talks about how she witnessed the border at Idomeni go from some empty fields in early 2015 to the largest sprawling camps in Europe 12 months later, populated by people who had made epic and exhausting journeys.

Speaking to both John and Paul, Zoe talks about this enormous upheaval in a rural community and how thousands of local Greek people organised to provide food, clothing and medical care to tens of thousands of refugees in transit long before the government, other agencies or international volunteers were helping.

Many citizens of Northern Greece have grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees themselves so they know how traumatic it is to be forced to leave your home. 

In an emotional recollection, it is a story of human solidarity, supporting each other, but being part of it came at a huge price. 

Govenerments must do more. 

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You can listen online by pressing play above. Or you can download it by clicking on the little down arrow.

A better idea is to have our weekly episodes automatically downloaded to your mobile so you never miss one. You will need a podcast or podcatcher app.

On an iPhone: ‘Podcasts’ is already on your phone. Open the app, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe.

With iTunes: Open iTunes, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe. Or just click on this Apple Podcasts logo and View in iTunes:

On Android: Download an app. We use Podbean but Podcast Addict or Podcast Player are others. Search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click either Subscribe or Follow.

Then, every Monday morning, our show will magically appear on your mobile and you can listen wherever and whenever you want. These apps have setting so that they will only download over WiFi so they don’t use up your data allowance, and they will remove the episode after listening so they don’t take up your memory.

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Claudia Bonamini of JRS on 20 March EU Turkey deal

April 16, 2018

With borders closing across Europe, refugees arriving were getting trapped in the southern states of Greece and Italy. The political solution to this was the EU statement of 20 March 2016 to slow the arrival of refugees from Turkey.

Two years on we discuss this statement, often referred to as the EU-Turkey deal, with Claudia Bonamini, Policy and Advocacy Officer of the Jesuit Refugee Service. Claudia wrote about the 2 year anniversary of the policy here.

There are a number of elements to the policy but whether you look at it from a legal, practical or moral viewpoint it has been a failure.

It has not stopped refugees arriving, many are still languishing in Greece, conditions in Turkey are probably inhumane, but it is Europe's moral failure that is so acute.

Claudia talks knowledgeably and passionately about this failure. We have made the suffering and injustice invisible within Europe's borders, and yet the suffering and injustice for people fleeing war is worse.

 

NEW TO PODCASTS?

You can listen online by pressing play above. Or you can download it by clicking on the little down arrow.

A better idea is to have our weekly episodes automatically downloaded to your mobile so you never miss one. You will need a podcast or podcatcher app.

On an iPhone: ‘Podcasts’ is already on your phone. Open the app, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe.

With iTunes: Open iTunes, search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click Subscribe. Or just click on this Apple Podcasts logo and View in iTunes:

On Android: Download an app. We use Podbean but Podcast Addict or Podcast Player are others. Search for ‘Standing with Refugees’, click on our show (it has our red logo), then click either Subscribe or Follow.

Then, every Monday morning, our show will magically appear on your mobile and you can listen wherever and whenever you want. These apps have setting so that they will only download over WiFi so they don’t use up your data allowance, and they will remove the episode after listening so they don’t take up your memory

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Ingrid Van Loo - Hosting refugees in her home

April 9, 2018

Ingrid started supporting refugees in the Calais jungle in 2015 and went on to do much more, now hosting 4 refugees in her own home.

Giving refugees a place to stay is obviously important but it also means they get essential support to access all local services and integrate into their new country.

It can be hard work and you need to find the right balance, but it is very rewarding getting to know the people who have made extraordinary journeys, to see them succeed as they rebuild their lives and to spend time with others who are supporting refugees like the people of Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network

This is a inspirational and positive story from someone who just decided to do something to help and went on to help. And like all of us who are doing what we can for others, she got a huge amount out of it for herself. As Ingrid says: 'It has been the best years of my life."

A good place to start if you would like to host refugees is Refugees at Home.

 

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Richard Williams - Sanctuary on Sea

March 26, 2018

The Sanctuary organisation is a national volunteer movement devoted to offering a welcome and safety for people fleeing violence and persecution. In Brighton, that is the very active Sanctuary on Sea, chaired by Richard Williams, where they:

- Focus on creating welcoming environments in school

- Find accommodation for refugees coming under the Syrian vulnerable persons scheme

- Support other refugee-related organisations in Brighton

- Organise meetings and cultural events, especially as part of Refugee Week from 18-24 June this year

This is valuable work and another example of the many grass-roots solidarity in local communities across the UK. But the country could do more and small things can make a difference. We talk about that and some of the changes that Richard has seen over the 20 years he has been working with refugees, not least in the rise of the costly 'refugee industry'.

 

How about instead of spending all those billions keeping people out, we invest in these grass-roots initiatives to welcome people in?

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