November 21, 2016 admin

An impassioned plea for refugees

Refugee Children – How We Can Help

Refugees from Nazi Germany, new to London, twice bombed out in 1940, my mother and her family were taken in by a devout Christian couple, the Micklems. These good people welcomed them into their home in Boxmoor, where they stayed until the end of the war. When they were leaving, my mother said to Mrs Micklem:
How can I ever thank you enough?
She answered:
One day you’ll help others who are refugees as you once were. That’s how you’ll thank us.

I was brought up on the values implicit in that response. I have been privileged to watch my mother, now in her nineties, put them into practice towards both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees. Today, we speak often about the refugee children and how she wants to help.

I am lucky to be part of a generous and open-hearted congregation. At times over the last year I have received daily phone calls. The question is always the same: ‘What can I do to help?’ People feel triply motivated: by compassion for the horrors refugees, especially children, are passing through; by family memories of how our families were once refugees; and by the teachings of the Torah that we must love the stranger, that is, seek for them the physical and emotional security and hope for the future which we want for ourselves and our own children. This is why so many were so generous in helping bring unaccompanied children to the UK via the Safe Passage appeal.

Across the globe the fate of refugees and the numbers involved are so overwhelming that one can be left feeling paralysed. The Talmud teaches: Take on too much and you haven’t taken anything in; take on a little and succeed’. So, what difference can we make?

Over the last weeks I have met several times with the leaders of helping organisations and key members of our community. We agreed to forward specific projects for the New North London and its friends to make happen. They are described below, showing why each matters, what difference our support will make, how to find out more, and how to donate.

All the projects are run by well governed charities with strong reputations. It is un-rabbinic to tell people how to choose between them; the idea is that everyone will find something with which they can identify. Almost all the projects focus on the needs of unaccompanied children.

Tens, if not hundreds, of us are involved in supporting our Drop-In; many have registered with Refugees at Home to offer accommodation; others are engaged in all kinds of different ways. Please continue! But please also help as below. Each organisation is recording our NNLS contributions, so that we can tell you the difference we make.

I’m well aware that I have not been able to consult across the whole community, so I make this appeal in my own name, and as an expression of personal commitment, but in the knowledge that there is substantial support.

How We Can Help

Charity What we do Why it matters Goal
How to donate
In Northern Greece
Refugee Trauma Initiative

An Arabic-speaking therapist

We take therapists to refugees in Northern Greece to support their psychosocial needs. We wish to recruit an Arabic-speaking therapist for this project. Language knowledge is crucial. Refugees in Northern Greece have had, and continue to have experiences, which will in many cases require long-term psychotherapeutic support. £14,000 for a six-month role, to include salary, flights and accommodation. For more information, please click here
Women’s knitting groups To address their growing despair, powerlessness and boredom, we run knitting groups, which are proving highly popular, productive and cathartic. £6000 will fund a knitting group for 40 women, train facilitators and supply wool to each woman in their weekly group for 6 months For how to donate, click here.
World Jewish Relief

Mobile School Programme

We wish to run a mobile school project in Patras for unaccompanied minors in Northern Greece.  We would educate 200 children. Children are missing out on an education, and working with our local partner the mobile school van would offer maths and language tuition as well as health and hygiene education. £15,000 is sought towards the overall cost of £51,845 For more information and to donate, click here.
In the UK
Jewish council for Racial Equality‘Jump’
We provide befrienders for unaccompanied minors who have made it to the UK. We wish to extend this programme by recruiting more volunteer befrienders. JUMP matches young asylum seekers and refugees who arrive alone in the UK with trained, adult befrienders to support these isolated youngsters and aid their integration into society. £1000 will fund a befriending pair for a year.Volunteering as a befriender for a year will help make a real difference to a young person’s life. For more information click here

and to donate, click here
Child refugee support co-ordinator We want to create a new post of coordinator of services provided by the Jewish community to young asylum seekers. This role is to help identify needs and match them with helping organisations; to liaise with other communities’ activities and statutory provision and co-ordinate the supply of and demand for help. £28,000 for a full-time post for a year, to be launched part-time once £10,000 is raised For more information and to donate, click here
Help RefugeesMEENA Based in Birmingham & run by Liz Clegg, MEENA provides unique psychological and legal support to unaccompanied minors. With its personal relationships and experience with the children, it is in a unique position to give close support to local authority and social services. Unaccompanied minors arrive in the UK traumatised and often totally alone. Liz Clegg has a unique and trusted position, having been primary care provider to hundreds of these children living for over a year in the Calais Jungle. She understands the complexity of their needs once they arrive here. £15,000 to employ Liz Clegg full time for 6 months. For more information, click here
To donate, click here
Winter Clothing Few of the camps in Greece have been fully ‘winterised’,meaning that most residents are still living in tents only appropriate for the heat of summer, either outside or in large, open warehouses which lack even basic heating. Many have already had flooding. Softex is a military-run refugee camp in an abandoned industrial warehouse with 900 residents. The need here is absolutely critical.There is a particular urgency for winter coats and jackets £30 per raincoat to protect people while they are outside; £30 x 332 residents = approx. £10,000. To donate, please go the Help Refugees website

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