Alex Green

Volunteers needed at the Calais woodyard!

The Calais woodyard are looking for a core team of six people to keep the woodyard running, and volunteers to help chop, prepare and distribute wood to refugees and displaced people in the region.

Wood is used to cook, dry clothes, heat water to wash and to keep people warm during the winter when temperatures can drop to below -5°C in northern France. Between November 2018 and April 2019, the woodyard distributed 266 tonnes of firewood to communities of displaced people around Calais. This autumn and winter, they need help to continue providing this vital service.

Woodyard Co-ordinator

The team are looking for coordinators to assist in the daily running of the woodyard. Organisation of the woodyard will start in October and will be fully functioning by November. Coordinators will assist with the setting up and running of the yard, including planning rotas, training new volunteers, leading distributions, preparing wood for distribution and working alongside other associations.

As a small team, flexibility and willingness to learn is key. All training will be provided and tailored to roles undertaken by the coordinator. 

  • Minimum age: 18 years
  • Minimum time: 1 month
  • Accommodation: €240 (+ €75 returnable deposit) for 1 month. Other arrangements can be discussed if staying for over 1 month
  • Other costs: Living expenses (1 meal a day provided at the warehouse by Refugee Community Kitchen), transport costs to warehouse (some transport costs will be covered through the use of work vehicles)

If you’d like find out more or apply for this role, contact calaiswoodyard18@gmail.com.

Woodyard Volunteers

The team are also looking for volunteers to work in the woodyard. Organisation of the woodyard will start in October and will be fully functioning by November. Volunteers will assist with the setting up and running of the yard including; distributions, preparing wood for distribution, working alongside other associations.

As a small team, flexibility and willingness to learn is key. All training will be provided and tailored to roles undertaken by the volunteer.

  • Minimum age: 18 years
  • Minimum time: 1 month
  • Accommodation: €240 (+ €75 returnable deposit) for 1 month. Other arrangements can be made if staying for over 1 month
  • Other costs: Living expenses (1 meal a day provided at the warehouse by Refugee Community Kitchen), transport costs to warehouse (some transport costs will be covered through the use of work vehicles)

If you’d like find out more or apply for this role, contact calaiswoodyard18@gmail.com.

Donate to the woodyard

If you aren’t able to volunteer but would still like to support the work of the woodyard, they currently need:

    • Gloves
    • Dust masks
    • Chop saw blades
    • Chop saw brushes
    • Grain sacks for bagging wood (these can be collected from breweries)
    • Net sacks for bagging wood (these can be found online)
    • Wood splitting axes
    • Financial donations to buy equipment and wood locally

If you think you might be able to help with any of these items, please get in touch at: calaiswoodyard18@gmail.com

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We’re changing the way we help refugees in northern France

With around 2,000 people living in dire conditions, there’s a pressing need for aid and services in northern France. And while people are forced to suffer on the UK’s doorstep, we’ll keep helping.

This autumn, we’ll be changing the way we provide this help. Instead of both funding and delivering services, some of Help Refugees’ current work (mainly provision of essential items and services, and legal observation) will be carried out by close partner organisations – enabled by funding from us.

This will allow the day-to-day running of these services to be undertaken by the dedicated and experienced volunteer teams closest to the ground, while allowing us to focus on what we do best – raising vital funds, advocating for policy change, and helping link up this people-powered grassroots response.

Our incredible partners Collective Aid will coordinate clothing and bedding distributions, and the Human Rights Observation team and woodyard will be run by our old friends and partners L’Auberge des Migrants. We’ll also be increasing our support for numerous other projects including providing legal assistance, informal education, warm meals and support for women and families.

Help Refugees and our partners will continue to rely on your love, time, kindness and donations. If you can, please donate funds, donate goods or volunteer your time in Calais. We’re so thankful for all your support, and with it, we’ll keep working towards a day when our services are no longer needed in northern France.


Images: Sabrina Dattrino

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Four years after Alan Kurdi’s death, what have we learned?

Our politicians hope that if enough people die, refugees will give up. They’ll go somewhere else. They’ll stay in squalid camps. They’ll return to the rubble of their homes. We know that’s not true.

The deaths we’ve seen in the Mediterranean Sea, in the English Channel, by busy roads and in desperate refugee camps across Europe – they’re the product of a policy.

It’s not one you’re likely to find in election manifestos, or on your government’s website. But it’s there. It’s a policy that accepts that human misery and death are necessary to deter people from seeking safety from conflict in Europe.

It’s worth saying that again. These deaths, these lives tragically cut short – they are largely preventable. But in their efforts to look ‘tough on immigration’, in preventing dignified and effective routes to safety, our politicians have condemned these people.

Conditions for young refugees in Calais

Current conditions for young refugees in Calais (RYS)

On this day four years ago, we all saw the heartbreaking images of Alan Kurdi, lying face-down on a Turkish beach. But despite the initial outpouring of compassion, little has changed. A British Government proposal to bring 3,000 lone refugee children to the safety of the UK was so watered down that only a few hundred children have been taken in over three years.

It’s now been revealed that the Home Office is also planning to end family reunion for children after Brexit, cutting this lifeline for children at risk of exploitation and abuse.

Children already risk their lives in the back of lorries or on overcrowded dinghies because of glacial legal processes. Without proper routes to safety, these dangerous journeys will only increase. But it feels simpler for our leaders to lament the deaths, rather than protect the living.

While our governments may think human lives are acceptable collateral in their efforts to look ‘tough on immigration’, we don’t. On this tragic anniversary, we stand in solidarity with all refugees and displaced people, and with everyone who steps up to help.

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We’re hiring! Apply to join Help Refugees as our new Fundraising and Marketing Manager

Help Refugees is seeking a Fundraising and Marketing Manager to join its London team.

 

This is a unique opportunity to gain experience working for one of the fastest-growing charities in the UK. You’ll work alongside a small, dynamic, hard-working team, and have the chance to make a real, tangible impact to the lives of thousands of refugees and displaced people all over the world.

ABOUT YOU

You choose love. 

You are motivated by a love of humanity that knows no borders.

You are a doer 

You spot opportunities for impact and make things happen. You are comfortable working on scrappy passion projects and longer-term strategic campaigns. A good day is when you’ve done something to change the world. 

You are a creative communicator. 

You know the world is changed by stories and you want to be at the heart of telling them. You can communicate complex ideas with clarity, powerful stories with passion and understand how to move people. 

You are curious. 

You know good ideas can come from anywhere and are constantly looking at the world around you for inspiration. 

You are a team player. 

You work best when part of a small, collaborative team. You are happy to muck in when needed and the words ‘not my job’ have never crossed your lips.

You are entrepreneurial. 

You think beyond the limits of your current role. You take risks, celebrate failure and never stop generating ideas.

ABOUT HELP REFUGEES 

We are pioneering a new movement in charity that provides emergency aid and long term solutions where they are most needed.

Our model is simple. We go where the need is greatest, find the local or grassroots organisations doing the most effective work, and give them what they need to help people – whether that’s funding, material aid or volunteers.

We work to fill the gaps in services available to refugees, across Europe and the Middle East. We aim to respond to emergencies with aid and support, and to secure permanent change through long-term solutions, campaigning and advocacy. Our work is motivated by four key values – dignity, hope, respect and humanity – which we promote through all of our work.

With this model, we’ve managed to support almost 1 million people across over 100 projects in 13 countries. In the last four years, we’ve had more than 30,000 volunteers from over 90 countries.

Our ‘Choose Love’ brand has been worn by Oprah, Julia Roberts and Jude Law, and thousands more across the world. Our ‘buy nothing, pop-up’ stores in London and New York have raised £2.75 million and gained headlines in New York Times, The Guardian and been featured on CNN. Our founders have addressed audiences including Barack Obama, Sheryl Sandberg and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

ABOUT THE ROLE 

The Fundraising and Marketing Manager is a new role focused on deepening the commitment of existing supporters and bringing new members into the movement. This role is for someone who loves technology and data and everything that falls between and wants to use that passion to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people. 

What you’ll be responsible for

  • Inspiring Help Refugee’s growing community of supporters to give by creating compelling campaigns and content across email, social media channels and offline events 
  • Tracking and analysing data donor to inform your work and the efforts of the organisation
  • Overseeing pro-bono campaigns. We’re lucky enough to get support from Google and Facebook. We want you to use it most effectively
  • Supporting the Leadership team on fundraising from high-level individual givers and foundations 
  • Make sure we’re updating our best-practices to reflect national and global trends in digital fundraising
  • Management of Help Refugee’s website and digital payment gateways 
  • Occasional management of contractors and project teams 

Essential Requirements 

  • Track record of success in digital fundraising or marketing with at least three years experience 
  • Demonstrable experience of understanding donor behaviour and inspiring people to give
  • Confident and sophisticated communicator with strong writing skills
  • Experience managing or working with a large community of online givers (50,000) 

The Big Pluses 

Ideal candidates will bring at least one of these to our work.

  • Experience with online fundraising in the model of new movement organisations (Avaaz, Sum of Us, 38 Degrees) 
  • Experience working in the field of humanitarian aid, refugee or migration
  • Experience using SQL and data and experimentation tools (e.g. Optimizely), ideally in a fundraising environment
  • Experience with mobile technology, online giving platforms and website design 
  • Track record of using social media platforms to fundraise 
  • Demonstrable experience in using data and analytics to segment audiences and target content that has resulted in more support 

THE DEAL 

The role will be managed by the CEO.

The role is currently based out of the Help Refugees office in London Fields, hopefully moving to Soho in London. Remote working will not be considered.

The role may involve some travel.

The role will be offered as permanent role with a six-month probation period. We anticipate the starting date to be no later than end of October 2019.

Salary is inline with other non-governmental organisations.

Application Instructions

Please apply with a cover letter (of no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for the role and a copy for your CV. Email jobs@helprefugees.org with the subject line ‘ Fundraising and Marketing Manager’.

Help Refugees does not discriminate in employment matters on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexuality or any other protected class. We support workplace diversity and believer it creates dynamic, relevant organisations, fostering spaces for innovation and creativity. We are working hard to increase the diversity of our team and encourage you to be a part of it.

We are committed to making our roles and culture inclusive. We can make reasonable adjustments throughout the application process and on the job. If you have particular accessibility needs, please get in touch and let us know any requirements you may have.

This post will remain open until filled, applications are being actively reviewed.

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We’re hiring! Apply to join Help Refugees as our new Digital Manager

This post will remain open until filled. We are actively reviewing applications and interviewing.

This is a unique opportunity for an experienced Digital Manager to join one of the fastest growing charities in the UK. You’ll work alongside a small, dynamic, hard-working team, and have the chance to make a real, tangible impact to the lives of thousands of refugees and displaced people all over the world.

You’ll join the organisation at an exciting time. In 2018, our Choose Love stores raised over £2 million – and the successful candidate will be a core part of the team delivering the stores this year.

Purpose of the role:

  • Identifying and acting upon opportunities for the organisation to grow digitally – whether by raising funds, reaching more people, growing petitions, or automating processes;  developing user journeys and digital analysis & reporting
  • To manage the organisation’s CRM systems, including overseeing volunteer management systems, fundraising and donations platforms
  • Manage the website, including liaising with external agencies; develop content strategy and contribute to content plan; oversee technical development; ensure content, processes and systems meet needs of all internal stakeholders
  • Provide clear, strategic leadership and guidance on all digital channels, to support the achievement of Help Refugees’ vision, values and outcomes
  • Develop data management systems; help to ensure digital activity is compliant with current data regulations, e.g. GDPR, and that appropriate security measures are implemented to protect supporter and beneficiary data
  • Contribute to the development of the wider Communications & Campaigns team plans and strategy; support and share skills with wider team

This is a varied role that holds responsibility for the development and implementation of our digital strategy. You’re a self-starter that loves solving problems, and is always seeking to beat ambitious targets and improve processes. You’ll be comfortable working under pressure to multiple deadlines in a busy office. Finally, you’ll be keen to expand on the skills you already have! 

Key skills

  • Experience of project managing integrated multi-channel digital campaigns with ambitious targets, from planning through to evaluation, and experience of all key channels (web, social, email, advertising)
  • Demonstrable experience of working with CRMs – ideally Salesforce – to segment audiences, develop processes and automate tasks
  • Highly proactive and organised, able to manage and prioritise a busy workload of multiple digital projects, KPIs and stakeholders to deadline with consistent quality
  • Strong technical skills, able to debug landing pages; good data analysis skills for reporting, segmenting, improving processes, spotting trends, and implementing learnings; proficient use of business IT systems including Google Ads & Analytics, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Zapier and databases
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, with an ability to act and write sensitively with complex and challenging topics, in a range of tones
  • Able to work calmly under pressure, balancing a variety of different demands and workstreams
  • Intermediate knowledge of HTML & CSS
  • Passionate about supporting refugees and displaced people

Desired

  • Experience coding and developing websites and digital products
  • Experience working with digital commerce tools and platforms (from online donation portals and Shopify to hardware such as iZettle machines)
  • Specialist qualification in relevant area e.g. digital marketing
  • Management experience 
  • Experience working or volunteering with refugees and asylum seekers

Terms and Conditions

  • Digital Manager is a full time role.
  • The role will be managed by the CEO.
  • The role is currently based in the Help Refugees office in London Fields, hopefully moving to Soho in London. Remote working will not be considered.
  • The role will be offered as permanent role with a six-month probation period. We anticipate the starting date to be no later than end of October 2019.
  • Salary is inline with other non-governmental organisations.

Application deadline: 9am, Friday 6th September. 

Application Instructions

Please apply with a cover letter (of no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for the role and a copy for your CV to jobs@helprefugees.org. This post will remain open until filled. We are actively reviewing applications and interviewing.


We are committed to providing equality and fairness for all and not discriminating on grounds of gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, nationality, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, mental health, religion or age. We encourage and celebrate the different qualities that our colleagues, and others we work with, bring to our work. We believe that seeing things from a wide range of different perspectives helps us to resolve problems, adapt our approaches and develop as an organisation. We want to bring greater diversity to our team and we’re keen to receive applications from people who believe they would do this.

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Joint letter to the Home Secretary on immigration and asylum

We’ve joined a long list of British charities in writing a joint letter to the Home Secretary, raising a number of pressing immigration and asylum issues – and pushing for a fairer, more dignified, more humane approach to migration and asylum.

Indefinite detention. Separation of families. The hostile environment. If our immigration and asylum system is to regain public trust, the UK needs to radically change its approach. We know it won’t be easy, but we believe that the UK can, and must, begin the task of creating a fairer, more dignified, more humane approach to immigration and asylum.

You can read the full letter below.


 

30th July 2019

Dear Home Secretary,

Congratulations on your appointment to one of the great offices of state. You will lead the Home Office through a period of great challenge, but at a moment of great opportunity for reform. We are writing to you as organisations that work with, are led by, or represent people who have moved to the UK and have made it their home. We want to raise a number of pressing issues, which require action if the immigration and asylum system is to regain the trust of the public.

Allowing people who seek safety in the UK to re-build their lives

As a global power and as the fifth richest country in the world with a proud history of providing safety to those in need, Britain has an obligation to lead by example and guarantee shelter and safe passage to those who seek asylum or refuge from conflict, persecution and crisis. We can and must build a system where safe, legal routes to asylum are accessible to all who need them. We must build a system where asylum decisions are made quickly and fairly, so that people can rebuild their lives in the UK. Currently, people seeking asylum in the UK are effectively banned from working, meaning that they are at a high risk of destitution and denied the opportunity to provide for their families and contribute to the economy. Funding cuts to ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) classes must be reversed and new long-term funding guaranteed. We need comprehensive support systems which help those who seek asylum to navigate life here and become active members of their local communities by allowing them to work and study.

Keep families together

All families belong together. Under current rules however, British nationals must demonstrate they earn an income well above the minimum wage in order to live with their partner in the UK. British nationals with parents abroad find it almost impossible to bring them here as they grow older. As a result, tens of thousands of British families live in separation, with children unable to see their parents except through Skype. The UK should make it easier for its citizens to build a life here with the people they love. Refugees in the UK who have lost everything should have the right to be reunited with their close family in the UK so that they can make a fresh start together and integrate in their new community. Reintroducing legal aid is vital for them to navigate the complicated process of being reunited with their families.

Secure the rights of European citizens and their family members and protect vulnerable groups

We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement to guarantee the rights of European citizens in the UK, but we urge the government to enshrine those rights in UK law. The Home Office must step up its efforts to provide adequate and concrete information about the EU Settlement Scheme to EU citizens and their family members who are often non-EU nationals. This should include targeted outreach activities to vulnerable EU citizens such as elderly people, children in care, disabled people, rough sleepers and victims of domestic violence. These groups are at risk of not being aware of the scheme at all, of being misinformed, of not having access to accurate information and support services to navigate the scheme and of eventually facing the hostile environment if they miss the application deadline.

Stable work and study routes

Our current immigration system ties workers to employers, distorting the market and creating opportunities for exploitation and short-term visas. Ever-changing requirements make workers’ lives unstable. We need more sensible, more flexible rules that encourage long-term integration and stability for families. Children and young people who grew up in the UK or were born in this country should have equal access to education and work as their British peers regardless of their parents’ immigration status. The Home Office should guarantee easy and affordable access to citizenship for this young generation.

Treat human beings with humanity and end indefinite detention

Our immigration enforcement system treats people brutally: families are woken in the middle of the night by immigration raids and parents are taken away in front of their children. Too many people are detained unlawfully and with no idea when they may be set free. Access to healthcare within detention is often inadequate. The Home Office under your predecessors started to take important steps in reforming immigration detention and pursuing alternatives to detention. There is cross- party support in Parliament for a 28-day time limit on detention. We ask you to pursue these reforms with urgency.

End the Hostile Environment

Our communities, our public spaces, our public services and our workplaces should be places open to us all, where no one fears discrimination or persecution. The hostile environment builds a border through our hospitals, homes, schools, police stations and communities. Doctors, landlords, police officers and teachers have been tasked with verifying immigration status and often people who look or sound ‘foreign’ are asked to show their papers in order to see a doctor or go to school. We are also concerned about the collection and processing of increasing amounts of personal data of migrants and the lack of safeguarding in place to regulate its use in the broader immigration process. We must end the hostile environment so that discrimination is effectively challenged and communities can unite, build bridges and prosper. Additionally, the recommendations of Wendy Williams’ Lessons Learned Review must be published immediately. We ask you to commit to ending the Hostile Environment.

Build a better Home Office

The Home Office should make timely, correct and fair decisions about people’s status, supporting people to get on with their lives and become active members of their community. It should not price people out of status or citizenship and should be transparent and accountable. Cuts to funding and a lack of investment in training and support mean that caseworkers are overstretched and the department struggles to retain staff. Only a department that works efficiently, values its staff, embraces transparency and uses evidence to make policy can deliver an immigration system that earns public trust. We ask you to invest in that reform as a matter of urgency. Recent governments have seen scandal after scandal rooted in the failure of the immigration and asylum system to work effectively and fairly. Building a better one will not be easy, but it is more essential than ever. We look forward to working with you and your department to make it happen.

Yours sincerely,

Leila Zadeh, Executive Director, UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group
Tahmid Chowdhury, Joint-CEO, Here for Good
Kerry Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Helen Bamber Foundation
Emma Harrison, CEO, IMIX
Satbir Singh, Chief Executive, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
Rosario Guimba-Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network
Josie Naughton, Chief Executive Officer, Help Refugees
Eiri Ohtani, Project Director, The Detention Forum
Arten Llazari, CEO, The Refugee and Migrant Centre (Black Country and Birmingham)
Toni Soni, Centre Director, CRMC, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre
Wayne Myslik, Chief Executive, Consonant
Emily Crowley, Chief Executive, Student Action for Refugees
Dr Laura Miller, Interim Director, Solidarity with Refugees
Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice, Migrant Voice
Alice Lucas, Advocacy and Policy Manager, Refugee Rights Europe
Maya Mailer, Campaigns Director, Asylum Matters
Kate Smart, Director, Asylum Welcome
Sarah Teather, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service UK
Jo Cobley, Director, Young Roots
Jill Rutter, Director of Strategy and Relationships, British Future.
Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE)
Nicolas Hatton, CEO, the3million
Hazel Williams, National Director, NACCOM Network
Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Chair, Churches’ Refugee Network
Kat Smithson, Director of Policy and Campaigns, National Aids Trust
Siân Summers-Rees, Chief Officer, City of Sanctuary
Lucy Jones, Director of Programmes, Doctors of the World UK
Clare Moseley, Founder & CEO, Care4Calais
Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Chair, New Europeans
Anna Jones, Co-Founder, RefuAid
Dr Mohamed Nasreldin, Director, North of England Refugee Service
Ali Harris, CEO, Equally Ours
Kush Chottera, Executive Director of Europia
Gus Hosein. Executive Director, Privacy International
Eleanor Harrison, CEO, Safe Passage
James Wilson, Acting Director, Detention Action
Sally Daghlian OBE, CEO, Praxis
Salah Mohamed, Chief Executive, Welsh Refugee Council

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We’re hiring! Apply to join Help Refugees as our new Campaigns and Communications Director

Applications for this job have now closed

Help Refugees is seeking a Campaigns and Communications Director to join our London team.

This is a unique opportunity to gain experience working for one of the fastest growing charities in the UK. You’ll work alongside a small but dynamic, hard-working team, and have the chance to make a real, tangible impact to the lives of thousands of refugees and displaced people all over the world.

ABOUT YOU

You choose love. 

You are motivated by a love of humanity that knows no borders.

You are a maker. 

You spot opportunities for impact and make things happen. You are comfortable working on scrappy passion projects and longer-term strategic interventions. A good day is when you’ve made something.

You are a creative communicator. 

You know the world is changed by stories and you want to be at the heart of telling them. You can communicate complex ideas with clarity, powerful stories with passion and understand the role of visuals.

You are strategic.

You keep your eyes on the prize and can deliver strategies and products with impact. You’re motivated by the lasting impact of your work.

You are a team player. 

You work best when part of a small, collaborative team. You are happy to muck in when needed and the words ‘not my job’ have never crossed your lips.

You are entrepreneurial. 

You think beyond the limits of your current role. You take risks, celebrate failure and never stop generating ideas.

ABOUT HELP REFUGEES 

We are pioneering a new movement in charity that provides emergency aid and long term solutions where they are most needed.

Our model is simple. We go where the need is greatest, find the local organisations doing the most effective work, and give them what they need to help people – whether that’s funding, material aid or volunteers.

We work to fill the gaps in services available to refugees, across Europe and the Middle East. We aim to respond to emergencies with aid and support, and to secure permanent change through long-term solutions, campaigning and advocacy. Our work is motivated by four key values – dignity, hope, respect and humanity – which we promote through all of our work.

With this model, we’ve managed to support almost 1 million people across over 100 projects in 13 countries. In the last four years, we’ve had more than 30,000 volunteers from over 90 countries.

Our ‘Choose Love’ brand has been worn by Oprah, Julia Roberts and Jude Law, and thousands more across the world. Our ‘buy nothing, pop-up’ stores in London and New York have raised £2.75 million and gained headlines in New York Times, The Guardian and been featured on CNN. Our founders have addressed audiences including Barack Obama, Sheryl Sandberg and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

ABOUT THE ROLE 

The Campaigns and Communications Director is a new role focused on building the profile, resources and support for Help Refugees to expand their impact.

Essential Requirements 

  • Track record in devising and delivering high-impact campaigns across platforms that made significant impact towards their goal
  • Strong portfolio of communication products or interventions that grabbed headlines or clicks
  • Track record in developing and maintaining strong relationships with a range of key influencers and actors in your field (media, advocacy, communications, campaigns)
  • Confident and sophisticated communicator with strong writing skills

The Big Pluses 

  • Experience in a start-up, growth business or a dynamic not-for-profit environment
  • Experience working in the field of humanitarian aid, refugee or migration

THE DEAL 

The role will be managed by the CEO.

The role is currently based out of the Help Refugees office in London Fields, hopefully moving to Soho in London. Remote working will not be considered.

The role may involve some travel.

The role will be offered as permanent role with a six-month probation period. We anticipate the starting date to be no later than end of October 2019.

Salary is inline with other non-governmental organisations.

Application Instructions

Applications for this job have now closed

Help Refugees does not discriminate in employment matters on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexuality or any other protected class. We support workplace diversity and believer it creates dynamic, relevant organisations, fostering spaces for innovation and creativity. We are working hard to increase the diversity of our team and encourage you to be a part of it.

We are committed to making our roles and culture inclusive. We can make reasonable adjustments throughout the application process and on the job. If you have particular accessibility needs, please get in touch and let us know any requirements you may have.

Application deadline: 9am, Monday 23rd September.

Applications for this job have now closed

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Help fill a container of vital aid for refugees in Greece

We need your help.

Greece container donations Needs List

We’re planning to fill a container of vital aid for refugees in Greece. That’s 1,500 boxes of much-needed supplies. But we can’t do it without you.

Could you organise a collection of food, clothing or hygiene items, then bring them to our drop-off point in East London on Saturday 1st June? If you can, we’ll get these donations to where they’re needed most in Greece.

We can’t do this without you. If you would like to coordinate a collection please register here and you’ll receive all the info you need about sorting, packing and how to drop off your donations.If you have any questions at all, please do get in touch.

If you’re unable to organise a collection but you’d still like to support this campaign and get involved you can by donating to help cover the shipping costs!

 

Thank you so much for your love, help and generosity.

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Refugee Youth Service are recruiting

Our partners Refugee Youth Service are recruiting. They’re are looking for a new Social Worker and a new Pashto/Dari Cultural Mediator to join their outreach team in northern France.

Please see the following links for job descriptions and contact info@refugeeyouthservice.net with your cover letter and CV to apply. Please share with anyone you think might be interested.

Refugee Youth Service provides safe spaces for displaced unaccompanied children and young people on the move. These spaces offer services such as food and showers, and facilitate access to services including protection, asylum, accommodation and education. Within their spaces, a varied programme of activities take place, centred around wellbeing, social development and informal education, fostering a feeling of belonging, self-worth and a sense of community. Refugee Youth Service is a restricted fund under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund registered charity number 1099682


Find out more about Refugee Youth Service.

 

 

 

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The experiences of a Michelin star chef volunteering on Lesvos

Merlin Labron-Johnson is a chef and restauranteur. At only 24, he received a coveted Michelin star. But recently he swapped London for the Greek island of Lesvos, cooking for 900 refugees each day at the One Happy Family Community Centre. Here he shares his experiences of his time on the island – the highs and lows of life as a volunteer helping refugees living in one of the most overcrowded and under-resourced camps in Europe.

Merlin chef cooking in One Happy Family Community Centre on Greek island of Lesvos Arriving in Lesvos on a Sunday night in October was not quite what I expected. The taxi took me past beautiful beaches, grand old aristocratic buildings and rivera style hotels. Outside the cafes, local people were congregating and basking in the warm air of their extended summer. There were no tourists. The air was thick with the smell of souvlaki and cigarettes.

I was under instructions to meet with a man called Mahmud upon my arrival. Mahmud is a man-about-town, cafe owner and in charge of catering for refugees at the One Happy Family Community Centre. He is also a refugee himself, having fled war-torn Syria two years ago. Back home, he worked as a doctor. He wanted to touch base before I embarked on my kitchen takeover, to brief me on the situation in Lesvos and what to expect during my time here.

I met him at 10.30pm in a local bar and over a double espresso he proceeded to give me the full lowdown. He started by describing the nearby refugee camp of Moria, the most overcrowded in Europe. It was originally built for 2000, but is currently four times capacity with around 8,000 refugees living in the most unthinkable conditions. Food is a huge problem. Sanitation is a huge problem. The very basic needs for survival are often not being met.

“The atmosphere was no different from my kitchen in London”

With the current system, refugees will wait at least two years before even being granted an interview where they can begin to discuss their next steps – their future. The state is intentionally letting people live in the most inhumane conditions in order to send a message to future asylum seekers. But it is failing to deter them. Every night hundreds of refugees are making their way across from Turkey and those that survive the journey are sent to Moria.

The conversation turned to the centre where I’d be cooking. It’s run by a mixture of grassroots volunteers and refugees. The day centre is on a different part of the island to Moria and is a safe haven away from the day-to-day trauma of living in camps. Refugees can attend classes, talk to social workers, play sports and eat a free meal. The kitchen, I’m warned, is rather ill equipped to cater for the masses that turn up each day for lunch. There are just two large pots. No oven. No fridge. The trick is to cook everything in the same pot and then serve it in one move. One component dishes only. Because when you have 900 desperately hungry people in a line, you really want the queue to move swiftly. We placed my order for the next day: Fresh tomatoes, onions, tinned mushrooms and bulgur wheat. I retired to my bnb to get some sleep and process this information.

“Each day in the kitchen was a joy, There was something profoundly beautiful about these people of different origins, race, gender and religion coming together”

Merlin chef cooking in One Happy Family Community Centre on Greek island of Lesvos

The following morning I was introduced to the kitchen team: Mohammed from Burma, Fifi from Zimbabwe and Zarah from Iran. First onion peeling, chopping, tomato chopping. The mood was light and everyone was focused on what they had to do. Two German volunteers jumped in to help. We were the United Nations of onion peeling. The atmosphere was no different from my kitchen in London, Everybody know what needed to be done. I was welcomed like an old friend and met so many people that I forgot everyone’s name.

Each day in the kitchen was a joy, There was something profoundly beautiful about these people of different origins, race, gender and religion coming together for the greater good which in this case, was a bowl of warm, nourishing food. Everybody was equal and everybody was treated fairly. Mahmud would watch over, offering advice and smoking his shisha pipe. Arabic music was blaring from an old guitar amp via youtube on someone’s broken iPhone.

“what if I burnt the pot, didn’t make enough or accidentally added too much salt? 

I’d have been responsible for 900 people going without food”

Over the course of the week I made bulgur wheat pilau, potato, chickpea and tinned green bean curry with coconut flavoured rice, chicken, rice n peas and the piece de resistance: A dhal made from red lentils, rice and frozen spinach.

At times it was challenging, coordinating the timings, working with no hot water, blunt knives, language barriers, getting the quantities right. I was absolutely terrified of messing up, what if I burnt the pot, didn’t make enough or accidentally added too much salt? I’d have been responsible for 900 people going without food and I don’t think I could’ve coped with that.

I don’t think it could’ve costed more than 30p a head but these bowls of food were sacred, a shimmering light in the darkness. Food that was bringing communities together and giving people hope and dignity. It’s hard to look at food the same way after this experience, enriched by the juxtaposition of cooking in a million pound kitchen in Mayfair and being here, stirring these big warped casseroles with a giant oar that had been rescued from a beach.

Merlin chef cooking in One Happy Family Community Centre on Greek island of Lesvos

The sense of community, equality and camaraderie belies the fear, poverty and suffering of life in camps like Moria. This is best illustrated in a quote courtesy of Taim from Syria: “In Moria everyone is fighting. The reasons are the bad conditions of the camp. We have to share the toilet and the bathroom with a lot of people. There is not enough food. In the night it is very cold, in the morning it is very hot. I love Greece, but I hate Moria. The reason I came to One Happy Family, is because I needed a place where I feel normal again.”

To gain more perspective, I decided to visit some of the other projects that are being supported by Help Refugees. I went to the Attika Warehouse where they store, sort and distribute donations. Like I’d seen in the Calais Jungle, camp residents were being provided with ‘care packs’. These were sets of donated clothing that would be distributed outside the camp – providing not just something clean to wear, but also warmth and a bit of a dignity.

How could this be happening in Europe, in 2018?

And why do we, in England, know so little about it?

On the other side of the Island I met the Refugee Rescue team. They’re a group of volunteers with a boat who keep watch over the sea during the night, and when they see or hear of refugees in trouble, they scramble to rescue them. Its hard to imagine the fate of thousands of desperate refugees, were it not for the work of refugee rescue. Nobody back home has heard of them or the incredible, dangerous and selfless work that they are doing to save human lives every day.

I met volunteers from a group called Watershed. They’re working to help improve sanitary facilities inside the camps. Access to clean water and adequate sanitation are enormous challenges in Lesvos camps. These guys are the unsung heroes, working tirelessly to try and make improvements.

I also visited the ‘lifejacket graveyard’. A dumping ground for the thousands of lifejackets from refugees who’d braved the journey from Turkey. In a remote part of the island was this orange and white mountain of misery, a reminder of all those that risked their lives on this journey and a reminder of all those that didn’t make it. How could this be happening in Europe, in 2018? And why do we, in England, know so little about it?

“Tears of joy and tears of sadness. A moment I will never forget.”

On my last day in the camp we ran out of food. The two large pots were full to the brim and there was no way of being able to prepare more in advance. Those that were at the end of the queue were told they’d have to wait while we whipped up a soup. They’d been queuing for hours and wouldn’t have eaten since the same time yesterday.

As we fed the final guests a greek musician arrived to play his guitar. A large crowd gathered around him as he sang ‘Peace be upon you’. He was joined by a Syrian refugee pop star who had the most wonderful voice. As he sang songs which I can only presume were familiar to his audience, many of the crowd began to cry. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. A moment I will never forget.

Merlin chef cooking in One Happy Family Community Centre on Greek island of Lesvos


We’re proud to support a wide range of grassroots groups providing essential aid and services on Lesvos. Please support this vital work by donating today.

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