Blog

Police violence confirmed in Northern France

Following reports of police violence in Northern France, including by Human Rights Watch and Help Refugees, a ministry ordered investigation found “plausible” evidence. Such a wide investigation and consequent recognition of police violence in the area is unprecedented.

The report has found that there was an “abusive use of tear gas” in Calais. It noted that numerous testimonies related incidences in which gas was used in obvious contradiction to regulations regarding the use of force.

Furthermore, it found that the police deployed a “disproportionate, even unjustified, use of force” in a number of [on-the-spot] situations – against both refugees and volunteers. It notes that the consistency among witness testimonies, regarding physical abuses, represented a questioning of police conduct that would be “difficult to ignore”.

The investigation was requested by the Interior Ministry, following a report by Human Rights Watch in July – which was itself prompted by initial findings by Help Refugees and L’Auberge des Migrants.

The findings were broadly consistent with our reports, that of the French ombudsman’s office, and that of Human Rights Watch.

The latter highlighted the fact that “the results of the French investigation are consistent with Human Rights Watch’s principal findings – that police routinely used chemical sprays on migrants, including children, while they were sleeping and in other circumstances in which they posed no threat, and regularly sprayed or confiscated sleeping bags, blankets, and clothing, apparently to press them to leave the area.”

While the investigation denied Human Rights Watch’s charge that the police used pepper spray to carry out such abuses, it concluded that the hand-held aerosols employed in these acts contained tear gas. Rather than reduce the gravity of police abuses, this does the reverse – for the effects of tear gas are more severe, and its long-term effects possibly more harmful, than those of pepper spray.

Other findings in the report were congruent with the experience of our volunteers in Calais. The investigation noted, for example, that police often failed to comply with their legal requirement to wear identification badges. Consequently, those who commit abuse cannot be traced or made accountable.

The investigators offered a number of recommendations, which included a formal reminder to officers that they are obliged to wear their badges for accountability purposes. Furthermore, the report noted the need to provide debrief and counseling to the officers deployed in the region, as well as a recognition of the humanitarian emergency.

Such recommendations are, as noted by Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch, “a step in the right direction”. But recommendation must be followed by implementation – and even then, the fundamentals of the ongoing humanitarian emergency in Calais require additional redress.

Help Refugees has long challenged the comportment of police in the area, and since 2015, has won a number of legal challenges against the local authorities and police forces. In the summer, for example, a court ruled in our favour and declared that the harassment and effective prohibition of food distributions was unlawful and inhumane.

But winter is now approaching, and the need for our food distributions is only increasing. 800 refugees are sleeping rough in the area: there are over 100 unaccompanied minors as young as 9 years old. Help Refugees continues to provide them with bedding, clothing and warm, nutritious food – which we can’t do without your help. To help us continue to help them, please donate here.

Read more

Help Refugees is looking for a volunteer events intern

Help Refugees is looking for a full-time events intern for six weeks from November 20th up until Christmas and the New Year.

During the month of December Help Refugees will be hosting a series of fundraising events across London.

We are looking for an intern who will be on-hand to assist with logistics, admin and general event support. You will be a part of a dynamic team, raising money to support our 70+ projects across Europe and the Middle East.

This is a great opportunity for someone looking to gain valuable experience in the sector.

Required:

– Highly organised
– Enthusiastic
– An understanding of Help Refugees’ work
– Prepared to travel around London and occasionally outside London

Desirable:

– Experience working within the sector
– Events experience

If you’d like to apply, please email your CV and a covering letter to communityfundraising@helprefugees.org.

Application deadline: 1st November 2017.

Please share!

Read more

Ragida’s Story: A Syrian Family’s Life in Greece

Ragida, 24, and her husband Moayyed, 28, recently welcomed a beautiful daughter. Baby Elena was born by C-section in a Greek hospital; her parents, and one-year-old brother Haji, are refugees from Raqqa, Syria.

The family fled their home when Ragida was heavily pregnant with Haji, as the intense conflict in and around Raqqa was only getting worse.

It took around ten days for Ragida and Moayyed to reach Turkey. From there, they crossed the Mediterranean in an overcrowded dinghy with other refugees.

Ragida said that she wanted to make the journey while pregnant, because her baby would be safer inside her. She was afraid that he would die if she was holding him.

Just four days after arriving on Lesbos, Haji was born by caesarean.

Haji was unwell, and it was an incredibly difficult time for the family. They were transferred to Athens, where they stayed in an apartment for seven months. While they enjoyed being in the city, and soon made friends, they had to share the apartment with another family and therefore had little privacy.

Five months ago, Ragida, Moayyed and Haji arrived in LM Village, a housing project near Patros. By this point, she was pregnant with Elena.

Ragida and baby in LM Village refugee housing project, Greece

Given that Haji was born by C-section, Ragida was booked in to the local Greek hospital for Elena’s birth. It was a confusing and worrying time for the family, as Ragida stayed in the hospital for almost a week without knowing when the caesarean would take place. After three days, the doctors prepped her for the operation; they then postponed it for another two days.

She is in pain following the operation, but is not allowed to take painkillers; she is unsure why this is the case.

Yet in spite of these challenges, Elena is healthy and happy, and Ragida is doing well.

From the photos, you can see what an adoring and caring mother Ragida is.

Ragida and baby in LM Village refugee housing project, Greece

One of our partner organisations, Refugee Support, spoke to her while she was resting in bed, at home, with her new baby sleeping in her lap. Moayyed is very attentive, and is not allowing Ragida to do anything while she recovers from the birth!

Ragida and Moayyed want to get leave to remain, so that he can find work and earn a living. However, the couple think that this may be difficult because of the economic crisis in Greece.

 


We wish Ragida, Moayyed, Haji and Elena all the very best, and hope that their status is secured soon.

The family’s story was initially shared by Refugee Support, one of our partner organisations that work in LM Village.

Refugee Support is one of the 35 grassroots groups that we support across Greece. We rely on your generosity to help them, and to help families like Ragida and Moayyed’s.

With winter coming, the need is only increasing: we need to prepare the camps for the harsh weather, as well as ensure that we can provide everything from warming and nutritious food to medical care. Please, if you are able to donate, do so here. Thank you – we couldn’t do our work without people like you.

Read more

#ChooseLove in Ibiza: Cosmic Pineapple’s Community Fundraiser!

An enormous thank you to Kim and the team at Cosmic Pineapple, who organised a fantastic fundraiser for Help Refugees – in Ibiza! We are so grateful to Kim for coordinating such a wonderful event. She has written a summary of it below:

 

“I started Cosmic Pineapple in March 2014, with the intention of sharing good vibes and information from healers and magic people around the globe.

Choose Love: fundraiser in Ibiza

In 2016, Cosmic Pineapple developed from a website in to a series of charity events in Ibiza. We did four events at Pikes Ibiza, and raised money for different causes in the process. These events were subliminally themed on the elements – earth, air, fire, water.

In 2017, I decided to hold just one event and focus on the fifth element, which is love.

Help Refugees
 is doing beautiful work: I love it when a charity gives people a strong impression of what they do, while they do it.

I had heard of their work, as well as how they are independent and have strong values based on empowering people, communities and humanity. I had also seen the Katharine Hamnett tee shirts, and had bought one a few months ago.

 

They have already done great things, and I hope that they will be able to continue doing so in the future!

The Cosmic Pineapple LOVE event was really magical. We split the door donations between three different causes – Help Refugees, Love Support Unite and a homeless project in Ibiza.

The LOVE event was like a mini-festival. We had yoga, talks, and dance during the day time, and it evolved in to a party that evening.

In a sense, people were celebrating for a cause, which made it a really special experience. Thank you for your work, and I hope this can go towards helping people in need!”

 


Help Refugees is so grateful to Kim and all who were involved in this wonderful event! Thank you so, so much to all who gave their time and energy in creating this amazing evening.

If Cosmic Pineapple’s festival of love has inspired you to hold a fundraiser of your own, you’ll find more information on the community fundraising section of our website. There’s plenty of ideas there – why not try an adventurous #ChooseLove challenge, or hold a Christmas event?

Winter is fast approaching, and we need your help more than ever as we prepare for the harsh season ahead. Our work depends on the generosity of people like you: if you are able to help us continue helping others, please donate here.

 

 

 

 

Read more

Show your support for Unaccompanied Refugee Children

It has been one year since the Calais ‘Jungle’ was demolished and thousands of refugees were displaced. At that time, thanks to pressure from people like you, the Government successfully transferred 750 child refugees from France to Britain. 200 of those children were resettled under the Dubs Amendment.

One year on, close to 200 unaccompanied children are back there in worse conditions with little access to safe and legal routes.

There will be a debate on child refugees on Thursday 2nd November, and we need to keep the pressure up to ensure that more unaccompanied minors are brought to safety in the UK.

We have written a template letter with our partners Safe Passage below to contact local MPs and councillors, which you can edit and adapt as you see fit. Find your MP and how to contact them here.

 

Dear <name of your MP/Local Councillor/ Head of Children’s Services in Local Authority>,

I am writing to ask you to attend the Backbench debate on November 2nd on whether we should do more for child refugees. As leader of [council name] I am asking you to continue Britain’s proud tradition of welcoming child refugees and ensure all the ‘Dubs’ places are now filled and children are transferred as quickly as possible.

You will be aware that the Dubs Amendment was passed in May 2016 as S67 Immigration Act 2016 in order to bring to safety unaccompanied child refugees from France, Italy and Greece. Parliament called for the Government to consult with Local Authorities when determining how many children would be granted protection in the UK under the scheme.

During the demolition of the so called Calais “Jungle” in October 2016 the UK gave sanctuary to 200 children under this provision. However since then, no children have been transferred under the legislation, despite the Government admitting in February that 480 placements had been identified in total.

These 200 children prove that our Home Office and our Government are able and willing to follow a proud tradition of being a safe haven for child refugees since the Kindertransport in the Second World War, allowing them to find safety in the UK without risking their lives.

Charities such as Help Refugees and Safe Passage who work with the children left behind say many have family in the UK they should be reunited with, or could be eligible for protection under the Dubs amendment.

Knowing that at least four children have lost their lives last year at our border in Calais before the Amendment was implemented, some waiting to be with their families in the UK, is heartbreaking and we cannot let this happen again.

I am writing to ask that you ensure the further 280 children are transferred safely to the UK now as swiftly as possible and to urge the Government to provide swift access to family reunion so that children do not have to risk their lives to reach protection and family.

I ask that you write to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd reminding her the Home Office must act on their existing legal obligation and promises made to children under the Dubs Amendment (S67 Immigration Act 2016).

  • All 480 placements must be filled – The immediate identification, assessment and transfer must take place before the end of the year, to protect children from freezing temperatures and the many other risks they face;
  • The EU-Turkey deal eligibility deadline of 20th March 2016 must be scrapped – Currently only children who arrived in Europe before this date are considered eligible for ‘Dubs’, meaning many vulnerable children who arrived more recently are not being considered for the scheme;
  • Speed up family reunion for unaccompanied children in Europe with family in Britain (the ‘Dublin III’ regulation) – children are currently waiting many months to access this safe and legal route, leaving many to risk their lives in the hands of smugglers simply to reach family.

I recognise the leadership role Britain has played in coordinating aid to countries with large refugee populations and in resettling refugees directly from the region, however I strongly believe we should also do our bit to support some of the most vulnerable child refugees who have already arrived in Europe.

On the eve of WWII, Britain gave sanctuary to some 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe fleeing Nazi persecution through the Kindertransport. One of these children was Lord Alf Dubs; his amendment – Section 67 – continues this proud tradition of offering protection to some of the most vulnerable child refugees in Europe. I ask you to stand up now for that tradition.

Kind regards,

Your name

Signature

Date

Read more

This is about inclusion, this is about rebuilding people’s lives

In the 1920s, Kilkis, a small region of Northern Greece was a land of refuge for thousands of people. Back then, seven refugee families built a shelter that became a home for generations.

Nearly 100 years later, Help Refugees is partnering with the local association OMNES (ALL in latin), which uses the same shelter as base to house hundreds of families in the region.

But Help Refugees support goes beyond just housing people. This is about inclusion, this is about rebuilding people’s lives in times of social crisis.

Interpreters, lawyers, social scientists, nurses and more are there to foster people’s process of social inclusion. All of this is available in the new Help Refugees funded inclusion centre, which is open to everyone.  Certified teachers are within 3 classrooms and one computer lab providing language and other vocational education on a daily basis. Other professionals and volunteers are creating recreational activities for all. The multi-language books available in the library and the children space pleases the young ones while the free wifi area will soon guarantee additional online education opportunities.

Besides funding OMNES to create a crucial space to foster inclusion, since August 2017, we became the sole supporter of the OMNES legal department.  Without access to legal information, refugees are often lost in an information void and are often unable to proceed effectively with their asylum claim.

Together we are giving legal support to all 521 residents:

– 452 people awaiting resolution on their family reunification, relocation to another EU country and asylum in Greece.

– 42 persons who were recently granted refugee status

– 27 persons are locals.

We do this because we believe that every family should always be granted the right to be together, because each of us has a right to protection.

The project is transforming the lives of hundreds of people while supporting the local economy. It has created 19 full-time local employment positions in an area severely affected by unemployment and youth desertification.

This human and rights based approach is how we provide long-lasting, sustainable solutions in times of crisis.

Please participate in supporting local projects, independent volunteers and refugees having a direct impact of people’s lives. Make a regular donation today of £10 to help us support Omnes, and more incredible projects like it, here.

Read more

Arabic, Sorani, and Kurmanji speaking volunteers are needed urgently!

We have an urgent need for Arabic, Sorani, and Kurmanji speaking volunteers to join the InterVolve team working alongside communities at Larissa-Koutsochero Camp.

We are looking for individuals who can assist with interpretation and translation, as well as support in adult learning, community involvement and integration, and to facilitate women’s and children’s activities and distributions.

To apply, and start making a difference in the lives of those living in Koutsochero camp in Greece, fill in this form.

Our partners Intervolve work alongside the population of Larissa-Koutsochero camp. This camp, located 20km west of the beautiful student city of Larissa, has a current population of about 700 people, with a maximum capacity of 1500. Intervolve are seeking to maintain and develop projects on and off camp which respond to community identified priorities and which promote wellbeing, skills development, self-determination, and integration.

Community Involvement Volunteers. InterVolve seeks to fill gaps and offer resources and support to all at Koutsochero Camp. As working alongside the community is  paramount , we are seeking long term volunteers, preferably with Arabic, Sorani or French language skills, to support and plan consultation activities with our communities, to develop systems for sustained participation and feedback, and to implement events and services that meet community needs.

Adult Learning & Activities. Adult learning needs remain unmet at Koutscohero Camp. We are seeking qualified Teachers or ESL instructors to lead, develop, and support a new program of directed and self-directed adult learning and life skills workshops  

Children & Youth Activities. Children constitute half of the population at Koutsochero Camp, and our library hour, craft and recreation activities, meet a crucial need. We seek individuals to direct and support our daily program of educational, creative, physical, and fun activities for children. Those experienced in childhood development, trauma education, and social work, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Integration. Supporting people to build local life skills, cultural awareness and connections, and to achieve economic independence . We are looking for individuals, especially those local to Larisa or Greece, to build on our existing programmes and to develop and implement an integration support project for residents.

Women’s Space. Our Pink House Women’s Space and Salon is a space of community, where women and young women can come together in a safe supportive space to take a rest from camp, make new friendships, and take part in activities e.g. sewing, making jewelry, doing hair and nails, and, dancing. We are seeking a long term volunteer to be a part of this community, assisting with  women’s requests, and ensuring the space remains welcoming and peaceful.

Free Shop & Warehouse. Our newly opened Free Shop is a hub for distribution of fruit and vegetables, dry food, and hygiene and clothing items. We are seeking volunteers to assist in all aspects of the operation of the shop, including sorting at the Warehouse, preparing needs lists, staffing the space, and ensuring it is organised, welcoming, and useful.

We Are Looking For:

Flexible, reliable, resilient, culturally sensitive, experienced and warm team-players, who will work in a respectful, inclusive, safe and community led way and in co-operation with the other NGOs and authorities on site. We need people who are motivated enough to learn together with the team, and to stick through the challenging process of building new projects with diverse communities. You should also be prepared to be working within the dynamics of a medium sized team and be living in a city which is removed from the social volunteer centres of Athens and Thessaloniki. Everyone supports each of the projects as part of the team.

Individuals with professional knowledge and skill in childhood development, trauma informed care, child and adult education, and language ability in Greek/Arabic/Sorani/French, who can commit to volunteer are strongly encouraged to apply.

Your Commitment: We are looking for people who are able to commit to a minimum of a month in the first instance. We have a code of conduct and a volunteer agreement to adhere to, and also require that volunteers participate in debrief and support sessions so that we can keep people safe, and to ensure we achieve the best we can with the resources we have.

Our Commitment:  Support and induction training will be given and for long term volunteers we may be able to offer accommodation. You will be an active part of a supportive team.

Application and Information: You can see a good snapshot of our existing team and work on Intervolve’s website  and at their Facebook Page. To apply please fill in the following form.

If you have any questions you can contact us at operations@intervolvegr.com

Read more

Child Refugees of Calais: A Day of Action

Start date: 24 October at 12:00 PM

Where: George V Statue (opposite the Houses of Parliament), Abingdon Street, Westminster, London, United Kingdom SW1P 3JY

Contact: contact@helprefugees.org.uk

On October 24th it will be one year since the Calais ‘Jungle’ was demolished and thousands of refugees were displaced. At that time, thanks to pressure from people like you, the Government successfully transferred 750 child refugees from France to Britain. We need to keep the pressure up, and repeat this success.

There are still hundreds of unaccompanied child refugees living in Calais. They live in the woods with minimal provisions and sanitation, they have to face the constant threat of police violence and traffickers.

This is an important day to remember our success last year but also to put pressure on Government, this is a unique opportunity to get the #ChildrenOfCalais back on the political agenda. Come and be a part of it!
Calais child refugees
Email us at contact@helprefugees.org.uk for more details.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Photograph: Refugee Info Bus
Read more

European policies are endangering refugees in Libya and the central Mediterranean

The risk of death for asylum seekers and migrants crossing the central Mediterranean is one in fifty. The vast majority – 95% – of those who attempt this passage have come via Libya, a country in domestic turmoil. A recent investigation by NewsDeeply details the impact of E.U. states’ politicking and policies on the security of vulnerable people who make the crossing, as well as those trapped inside Libya.

European leaders have been accused of prioritising a tough immigration approach over one that responds in a responsible, sustainable manner to the crisis in Libya and the central Mediterranean.

The impact of this has been multifaceted: not only has it resulted in the ceding of primary search and rescue responsibility to NGOs, but it has encroached on EU policies from foreign affairs to aid and development. Giulia Lagana, E.U. migration and asylum analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute, has said that “development targets, democracy and human rights, and even security in fragile areas, are being sidelined in the search for quick fixes to stem arrivals or step up migrant returns.”

Details of the central Mediterranean passage used by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants

The European response to the dangerous central Mediterranean passage has been limited at best. Since the closure of Italy’s vital search-and-rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, the EU has failed to provide a service which prioritises rescue missions. Instead, privately-funded charity boats have stepped in to fill the gap as far as they can. During the first three months of this year the number of rescues by non-governmental organisations exceeded that of official coastguards. Unfortunately, the success of such efforts was met with an unprecedented backlash.

The scale of physical, political and legal threats that ensued meant that by September 2017, only one private rescue vessel remained.

Threats to NGO efforts came from many different sources. Boats funded by far-right groups in Europe sought to intimidate and even, on occasion, inhibit rescuers. Ironically, one such far-right vessel became itself a beneficiary of non-governmental rescue efforts after falling in to difficulties in August.

The last eighteen months have also seen a spike in the number of threatening incidents with supposed members of the Libyan coastguard. As NGOs move closer to Libyan waters, their presence threatens to disrupt rival smuggling gangs’ lucrative practice of intercepting refugees and migrants heading out from the coast, abducting them, then selling them to detention centres back on the mainland.

A new code of conduct prepared by the Italian Interior Ministry included a prohibition on NGOs’ use of flares and phones while at sea, and banned the transfer of those rescued from other ships to Italy. The code was highly controversial, both within Italian political debates and beyond. MSF refused to sign it, arguing that the new code would result in more deaths at sea.

Recent negotiations between Italian authorities and the Libyan coastguard are assumed to be responsible, at least in part, for the reduced number of people attempting to cross. However, collaboration with certain Libyan groups has been accused of encouraging support for institutions which lack legitimacy, in turn precluding a lasting peace in the beleaguered country. Furthermore, the international funds granted to improve conditions in detention centres in Libya have reportedly created additional incentives for armed groups to seize control of such centres, in search of both money and legitimacy.

Women refugees held in detention in Libya

In collaborating with Libyan groups to prevent people from attempting the crossing, rather than investing in search-and-rescue efforts, European governments have been accused of leaving vulnerable people exposed to a litany of rights abuses.

 

Libya is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees: it does not offer asylum, rather detains undocumented refugees and migrants in deplorable conditions.

In September 2017, Joanne Liu (MSF’s International President) detailed the abuses, including rape, torture and slavery, that MSF has witnessed in Libyan detention centres. She wrote that “the reduced numbers of people leaving Libyan shores has been lauded by some as a success in preventing loss of life at sea, and smashing smugglers’ networks.”

“But with the knowledge of what is happening in Libya, that this should be lauded as a success demonstrates, at best, pure hypocrisy and at worse, a cynical complicity in the organised business of reducing human beings to merchandise in human traffickers’ hands.”

“European funding is helping to stop the boats from departing Libyan waters,” she wrote, “but this policy is also feeding a criminal system of abuse.”

 

To read the full investigation by NewsDeeply, please click here.


Help Refugees funds over 80 projects across Europe and the Middle East, and with winter approaching, we are in desperate need of funds to continue our work. We are barely able to provide things as simple as food, clothes and shelter right now. To help us to continue our work supporting vulnerable people, as we enter the harshest season, please donate here.

 

Read more

The Incredible Innes Family’s #ChooseLove Challenge

Bill Innes and his two daughters, Morag and Rhona, undertook an epic climb to raise money for Help Refugees. Bracing the August heat on a continuous three-day trek, they reached the highest peak in Spain – and summited two others. We are in awe of their efforts, and so grateful for the funds that they raised! This is their account:

 

“We really wanted to do something useful in response to the refugee crisis; something that would be of practical use, such as fundraising. We became aware of the amazing work of Help Refugees, and decided to support it by taking on a sponsored challenge: climbing the 3 highest mountains in the Spanish Sierra Nevada, which includes the highest mountain in Spain, in one continuous three day trek.

We discussed what our fundraising target should be and decided (with a little trepidation) to aim to raise £1,000. We got our MyDonate site set up in May, giving us about 4 months to get sponsorship.

We also needed to get in some serious training – especially Bill! This included tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks, a tough 24 mile hike over the three highest hills in the Yorkshire Dales, which is often done as a charity event itself.

Innes family training for their community fundraising challenge

On the 15th of August, we flew to Malaga and picked up our hire car. We drove to Lanjaron, a town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, for an overnight stay and to meet our guide, Felipe, from the trekking firm, Spanish Highs.

 

Day One: Pico Alcazaba

The following morning, we got the National Park bus to the road-head (well, a stony track-head really!) and started the climb over our first mountain, Alcazaba (3371m). This is a very remote peak, and it was a later than ideal start time: the noon sun was beating down as we set off.

Not being acclimatised, the altitude took its toll (particularly on Bill!) and we were relieved to reach the remote, lonely summit around four hours later. We had the peak all to ourselves, its superb views of the surrounding wilderness slightly obscured by heat haze.

We still had to get to the mountain refuge, Refugio del Poquiera, where we were staying that night. The journey involved many descents and ascents over mountain passes, until we thankfully arrived at about 7.30pm – pretty exhausted, to say the least!

Innes family having climbed the first peak of their community fundraising challenge

 

Day Two: Pico del Veleta

The next morning, we set off for our second summit, Veleta (3394m). We aimed to climb the peak, and return by a different route to the Refuge.

Innes family scaling a rock face for their community fundraising challenge

Our approach to this summit from the south is remote, and involves at one place an ‘airy’ traverse..!

The ascent from the south was in stark contrast to the northern side of Veleta, which has been developed for skiing and has tracks almost to the summit. It was weird getting to the summit and suddenly meeting lots of people who had been driven nearly to the top from the other side!

Once the obligatory summit photos were taken wearing our Choose Love tee shirts, we set off away from the crowds and didn’t see anyone else until we returned to the refuge by late afternoon.

Innes family, after climbing the second peak of their community fundraising challenge

 

Day Three: Mulhacen

It was an early start from Refugio del Poqueira to climb Mulhacen, the highest point in mainland Spain at 3478 meters. Although very tired by now, we were acclimatised to the altitude, and the early start meant that we gained quite a lot of distance and height before the sun found us.

The final stretch to reach the summit involved ‘zig zagging’ up relentlessly steep scree (loose stones), until at last, we were there: we had reached our final summit of this challenge! It being the highest mountain in Spain, we were not alone – but the feeling of camaraderie between everyone who had made it was brilliant, and overcame any language barriers.

Innes family, having reached the top of the third peak of their community fundraising challenge

It was a long hike from the summit to the road-head, where we got a lift back to Lanjaron. Welcome drinks, showers and a celebration meal followed – in that order!

The next day, we became regular tourists and visited the beautiful city of Granada. What a brilliant surprise to come across this sign declaring ‘Refugees Welcome’!

The Innes family found a Refugees Welcome sign on the final day of their community fundraising trip

This challenge was tough and the questions did get asked at times: “who’s idea was this, Dad?!”, or “why are we doing this, Dad?!”. The answer, and what kept us all going, was that we were doing something in response to the ongoing refugee crisis.

We hoped to raise awareness of the need and to encourage everyone, including the UK government, to do much more to give shelter and support to desperate displaced people: fellow human beings. We surpassed our target, raising £1,160 to assist the work of Help Refugees – which is what made it all worthwhile!

Thanks to everyone that sponsored our challenge and helped make a difference.”

– Bill, Morag and Rhona

 


Help Refugees are so amazed by, and so grateful for, everything that Bill, Morag and Rhona have achieved! Thank you so much to the incredible Innes family.

If their trip has inspired you to do a similar #ChooseLove challenge, then you’ll find more information on the community fundraising section of our website. Alternatively, if you aren’t keen for such an energetic adventure, then why not have a look at some other examples of fundraising – a mini-festival or a Christmas event, perhaps?

As ever, our work depends on the generosity of people like you. If you are able to help us continue helping others, please donate here.

Read more