Choose Love

Safeguarding at Choose Love

We’re aware of recent social media posts making references to safeguarding and other concerns relating to Choose Love, and understand the disquiet this may cause to our partners, friends and supporters. We have taken the decision not to engage in discussions on social media, as this is not an appropriate forum for addressing safeguarding issues. We continue to encourage a dialogue privately and via official pathways.

In all safeguarding matters, Choose Love follows robust internal procedures. Serious incidents are always reported to Prism, our accountable body, which in turn, informs the Charity Commission. We will always act on recommendations within the scope allowed by the findings of investigations and reviews.  

We are committed to protecting the people we work with, and for, and have invested heavily in strengthening safeguarding structures within the organisation. Over the last year, we have: 

  • Developed a new safeguarding framework, including safeguarding, whistleblowing, risk management, governance and accountability policies and a Code of Conduct for staff.
  • Developed thorough reporting routes, including timelines for investigations.
  • Appointed focal point roles throughout the organisation for each geography, to be the first point of contact for safeguarding issues raised for partners.
  • Newly appointed a Lead Director for Safeguarding.
  • Ensured all staff have had safeguarding training, with additional training for Focal Points and Executive Leadership Team.
  • Built safeguarding into all of our recruitment processes, with the Executive Leadership Team undertaking safer recruitment training.

We have clear systems and procedures in place to respond to any concern or complaints, and will always respond professionally and with integrity to any concern that is reported to us via our official reporting routes. 

In the first instance, concerns or complaints should be emailed to safeguarding@choose.love. Any dissatisfaction with our response can be reported to Prism the Gift Fund, our accountable body, via the contact details in our Safeguarding Policy.


Key contacts and policies

If you are unhappy with any aspect of Choose Love’s work, find out how to take action using our Complaints Procedure.

If you have concerns or would like to report a safeguarding issue, you can read our full Safeguarding Policy or speak to our Safeguarding Lead via safeguarding@choose.love.

A detailed version of our safeguarding reporting routes is available here. To receive the full suite of policies in our safeguarding framework, or to report a safeguarding concern about our work, please contact us on safeguarding@choose.love.

Our Whistleblowing Policy is for use by people working at all levels of the organisation, including all employees, volunteers, freelancers and consultants to disclose information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work.

Finally, our Code of Conduct sets out our expectations and guiding principles for appropriate behaviour at all levels of the organisation and in all the environments in which we work.

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We’re hiring! Apply to join us as Choose Love Representative – Lebanon

CHOOSE LOVE REPRESENTATIVE – LEBANON

 

Application deadline: 9am, 29th March.

 

About Choose Love

Our mission is to do whatever it takes to identify, close, and prevent gaps in services and protections for refugees and displaced people. We work fast, flexibly, and creatively to provide what is needed today, not tomorrow. Prioritising local knowledge and lived experience, we partner with organizations working along key migration routes. This approach enables us to work in spaces where others cannot – or choose not to – act. We fundraise for these organizations, supporting them to build their capacity and meet needs at three key stages: 1) emergency response, 2) daily survival, and 3) securing futures. 

 

Alongside our work with partners, we use our platform to share experiences, information, and our partners’ voices. We campaign for the rights of refugees and displaced people to seek safety, often with a focus on unaccompanied refugee children. We aim to change the public narrative around forced migration so that people on the move do not face hostility and discrimination but are met instead with love. Ultimately, we work towards the day when our organization can cease to exist.

 

We currently have 5 partner organizations in Lebanon, and are looking to increase this number in the coming months.

 

Purpose of the consultancy

1. To support people on the move in Lebanon by filling gaps in service provision along the route, and capacity-building services.

2. Provide information and briefings to support Choose Love fundraising efforts

3. Understand and advise how ChooseLove can be most effective in the region.

 

Key areas of services

Context analysis and representation

  • Understand and provide feedback on both the national and regional context
  • Network, develop and maintain effective working relationships to enhance cooperation and coordination among organizations.
  • Represent Choose Love, to the extent allowed under the Agreement, at inter-agency working groups in Lebanon, where appropriate
  • Occasionally participate in report writing and in proposal writing relevant to the operation and context in the region.
  • Have an understanding of the protection mechanisms existing to support displaced groups
  • Host visits for the Choose Love team, donors, journalists and key stakeholders.

 

Grant management and funding

  • Suggest the allocation of resources based on needs, local developments and strategic direction.
  • Contribute to monitoring and evaluation of partner projects.
  • Maintain regular contact and build trusted relationships with partner projects.
  • Support partners where it is welcomed / needed – this includes capacity building, operational support and advice, etc. 
  • Ensure timely submission of project reports by coordinating with partners.
  • Organize training sessions for partners when necessary. 
  • Provide feedback regarding any safeguarding concerns connected to Choose Love partner organizations or situations in the field that implicate Choose Love partners/result in any immediate risk of harm or danger.

 

External communication

  • Work with the campaigns and communications teams to raise awareness of the situation in Lebanon, and issues affecting partners.
  • Be a point of contact for media and communications when required – this includes gaining permission from partners for media.

 

Details

  • This role will be on a consultancy basis for 6 months, with a day rate of $150 offered (approx. 3 days a week)
  • The Agreement will be with Choose Love Inc., a US 501c3
  • The role will be managed by the co-Head of Programmes, based in London
  • Applicants with lived experience of displacement are strongly encouraged to apply

 

Equal opportunities

We work in a spirit of solidarity with our partners, communities, and beneficiaries without compromising the need for safety and protection. We seek to protect the rights and uphold the dignity and humanity of all those whom we reach. We recognise and respect individuals’ capacity: we see them as actors in their own development, and we encourage their engaged participation in our work.

Choose Love Inc is an equal opportunity and merit employer, offering employment to suitable individuals who exhibit and are willing to ascribe to our mission and values. We are committed to cultivating a fair and healthy environment, where everyone can be themselves and thrive. That’s regardless of your gender, age, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and cultural identity. 

Download this Job Description here.

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A letter to the people of the UK – from a former resident of Napier barracks

This is a message to the UK from a former residents of the Napier barracks. At their request, we are honoured to share it here.

 

Dear People of the UK,

You may know me from the letters which were written on behalf of the Napier barracks residents. I am now outside of the camp and cannot talk on behalf of my other friends. However, I personally would like to say a few important things about what I have seen and learnt during my stay at Napier Barracks and the United Kingdom.

I was moved to Napier Barracks in October 2020. Being in an unhygienic, prison-like place with so many people from different backgrounds and traumatic experiences living with each other, can affect anyone mentally. Moreover, by sharing a block with 28 people each and 2 toilets and showers in total, it is obvious your physical health can also deteriorate from Covid-19 and any other kind of contagious diseases.

400 people had to share their dining room and bedrooms together, which subsequently made half of the population become infected with Covid-19. Apart from the effect on their physical health, vulnerable people who fled war and persecution had to bear the prison-like atmosphere of the camp. Victims of torture, hostility and aggression had no mental support or access to a specialist or someone who at least is trained to deal with vulnerable asylum seekers. One nurse on site was for sure not adequate for all the 400 residents, and asylum seekers were relying on painkillers to calm their dental pains and any other pain.

The lack of information has also been a great cause of frustration. No one knows for how long you are going to be there. And when you will receive an update about your asylum process.

Our complaints have always fallen on deaf ears. Several peaceful protests, one hunger strike and so many suicidal attempts were not important enough to catch the Home Office’s attention. Over time, residents became more and more depressed and distressed. Everyone lost their motivation to socialise with one another.

I was tested positive with more than 170 other residents in January. No one checked on me to ask if I am alright or if I need any medication. Isolation was impossible and people were not able to ask for vitamins or anything that can help them to improve their immune system. I had severe pain in my chest, ribs and head for a week. Having fever, shivering at nights and being fatigued and completely energyless were other symptoms that I experienced.

The fire made the conditions even worse, with two full days and nights without power, heating and hot water. The conditions were so unbearable that everyone was suffering. Sleeping in your cold and dark bedroom for two nights was agony.

Two weeks before the inspection by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration took place, I and many other residents were moved out, including those who spoke English. There are currently fewer than 50 residents still there, who remain in limbo, feeling increasingly hopeless.

It seems that the attitude that asylum seekers are currently experiencing in the UK is due to some politicians’ view of immigrants which are either ignorant or discriminative. They are spreading misinformation across the country to their citizens, students and children. I would like to raise some points about their statements.

Firstly, there is no such a thing as an ‘illegal immigrant’. When your life is in danger, you cannot just go to an embassy or sit behind your laptop and apply for a visa – which is almost impossible to get for non-privileged European citizens – and then simply book a flight ticket and come to the UK. You have no other choice but to leave everything behind and go to another country which can protect you.

However, there are also people who came to the UK to study, to visit their family members or to work and then faced problems in their own country, which made them unable to go back; and then they had to claim asylum, as persecution and punishment, and in many cases, torture, would be an expected consequence for them on their arrival back in their country. Some people also do manage to apply for a visa as they have a different economic status or have enough time to flee. I have seen so many asylum seekers in the camp who came to the UK with a visa and not by boats: we all suffered from the same vile and hostile policies.

Although the UK is one of the European countries which hosts asylum seekers, the numbers are not that remarkable in comparison to other countries in Europe. While Germany and France receive more than 100K asylum applications, Greece and Spain more than 70K, the United Kingdom received 29,456 asylum applications last year (an 18% drop from the previous year). Yet this is being discussed as if this country is having a migration crisis and the asylum system is broken. I think the UK could learn from other European countries which are hosting much larger populations of asylum seekers, about how to handle so many asylum applications; and also, about avoiding significant problems about how the asylum seekers are treated or how their asylum accommodation is. But it is of course cheaper for the government to follow the Australian approach which is condemned by all international bodies as being completely inhumane.

People seeking asylum, like all the members of a community, will contribute to the society that gave them safety, freedom and refuge. Some of them may become a professor at a Scottish university; some of them will study and choose to have a professional, insightful career and choose to contribute to the society and economy. Discriminating against them and making them suffer will subsequently affect the next generation of this country. Words do matter. Asylum seekers are not invaders, criminals, savages or ‘illegals’. They are humans like you, but with a different background. They did not have the privilege to be born in a safe, free and democratic country and when you have it for free, with no effort – just by the place you were born in – it is easy to blame them for the things that they have not been responsible for.

It is truly shocking, that now in 2021, in a country like the UK that the government is promoting the xenophobic and racist side of its country which is surely not the majority of the people’s way of thinking: a country, in which 50% of its capital’s population is not originally British. Just imagine how this kind of attitude from the Home Office, the propaganda of Nigel Farage and Britain First can affect the people who are originally immigrant, and how their safety and rights will be preserved, after such spreading of hatred and bias.

By making these points, I want to urge everyone to be sensitive about what has been happening to the asylum seekers now. It is not just about the people seeking asylum, it is about how the politicians think about immigrants. When it comes to disrespecting a human’s dignity and decency, everyone must know that there is no end to it, and that others can be next. Because this view of immigrants is not about seeing you as a human. It is about the passport you hold, the language you speak, the religion you practise and your hair and skin colour. It is about being in a hierarchy, and if you are not already, you are going to be the next victim sooner or later.

I hear politicians repeatedly saying that the United Kingdom has a proud history of protecting the vulnerable people, but the question is; will the United Kingdom have a proud future of protecting those who are in need? Will the students and children of this country be proud or ashamed by what has been happening now?

 


While the UK government continues to meet people seeking safety with hostility, we’re supporting groups across the UK to provide everything from food and mental health support, to community spaces, specialised LGBTQ+ support and training. If you can, please support the heroic groups giving the welcome all people deserve

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Take action to #CloseTheBarracks

Over 7,500 people joined our call for the Barracks to be closed and people to be moved to safe, decent accommodation. While we saw genuine concern and supportive words from some MPs, many continued to defend these indefensible conditions.

We are sorry to say that we have now heard the alarming news that there are plans to move more people into Napier Barracks on the 2nd April.

We simply cannot accept this and we need you help to increase pressure on MPs and ensure that the Government #CloseTheBarracks!

We’re coordinating with a national movement of organisations and are calling for a day of action on 19 March. We’re asking you to follow-up with your MP again and ask for a virtual meeting  to convince them that this cruel and dangerous lack of empathy must stop – and that true, safe housing is the only solution.

You don’t need to be an expert, know the difference between the House of Commons and House of Lords, or have done anything like this before. All you need is a big heart, and to speak from it.

You’ll find all the resources and support you need right here and we’ll run a webinar on the week of the 19th to explain effective ways to talk to your MP.

Resources:

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Under pressure – how Greece is closing in on civil society

Humanitarian work is essential and must be protected and respected.

The Greek government is making it impossibly hard for many vital humanitarian groups to operate – but protecting the rights of vulnerable people must come first.

Greek law requires all NGOs to register with the government, but by doing so they must fulfil a host of expensive and bureaucratic obligations. This controversial law will result in a vast number of small grassroots organisations, just like the partners we support, being prevented from doing their vital work.

This Greek registration process adds to the mounting criminalisation, intimidation and restrictions placed on NGOs worldwide.

We have just released a report detailing concerns that the walls are closing in on NGOs in Greece. Drawing on survey results from 70 organisations, our report calls for these laws to be brought in line with European and international standards on the freedom of association.

Read the reports:

1. Report (English)

2. Executive summary (English)

3. Report (Greek)

4. Executive summary (Greek)

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Choose Love Phone Collection

Across Europe, many people on the move lack a phone – meaning they cannot stay in contact with loved ones or essential services.

 

You can help. Here’s how you can donate your unwanted phone:

1. Check your phone is in good working order and can still hold charge. Please don’t send any broken or damaged phones.

2. Return the phone to factory settings, wipe all your personal information and ensure it is unlocked and can be fitted with a new SIM card.

3. Pop your phone AND it’s charger into a padded jiffy bag.

4. Send to:
Choose Love HQ,
Somerset House,
The Strand,
London.
WC2R 1LA

 

We’ll then get your phone to where it’s needed most, helping people stay in touch with family, friends and services like legal support.

 

THANK YOU!

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CHOOSE LOVE

We are now known as Choose Love everywhere! 

 

Five years ago, we began as Help Refugees. This name has served us well, but we’ve become more and more aware that the language of helping doesn’t reflect what we aspire to be. ‘Helping’ is not enough. We want a world of love, welcome and justice – not just charity. 

 

We believe Choose Love better reflects the empowered, just and more loving world we want to see. Choose Love is already the name of our US charitable entity and pop-ups; it appears on our tees and is most importantly, the ethos at the heart of everything we do.  So over the last year, we’ve been making the transition to be known as Choose Love everywhere. 

 

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be making some changes (like the address of this site!) but with your help we will continue to provide vital aid and work towards a world of love and justice for everyone. 

 

Whether you’re part of the early Help Refugees story, or always known us as Choose Love, alongside tens of thousands of friends, volunteers, donors, fundraisers and supporters, we are so proud of what we’ve all been able to achieve together. 

 

We hope you will continue to be part of this movement. From all of us at Choose Love, thank you for your continuing love and support.   

 

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Risk of homelessness and destitution for thousands in Greece during winter

11,000 refugees in Greece, many of whom are families with children, are facing an increased risk of homelessness in winter and amidst a global pandemic.⁣⁣

Alongside 73 other organisations, we have released the following statement to EU and Greek officials, calling on them to urge the Greek government to reconsider. The human rights to dignity, equality, and inclusion must be respected.⁣⁣


 

As winter closes in, thousands of refugees in Greece still face homelessness and destitution. While winter always poses a challenge, this year is likely to become one of the most challenging yet due to the ongoing pandemic, a deliberate decrease in the length of support for refugees, and the lack of a comprehensive integration strategy and strategy against homelessness from authorities. 

 

Around 11,000 people who were granted asylum were notified amidst a global pandemic that they were going to face forced exits from apartments for vulnerable people (ESTIA), hotel rooms under the Temporary Shelter and Protection program (FILOXENIA), accommodation in camps on the islands and on the mainland. These forced exits follow a government policy where refugees are forced to ‘stand on their own feet and fend for themselves’ within one month after protection status is granted, resulting in an end to accommodation, access to food support, and EU funded cash assistance. 

 

The EU-funded HELIOS Integration Support program has enrolled 22,980 refugees, but so far only 9,203 people have been able to access rental subsidies. For a great number of people it will not be possible or feasible to receive HELIOS support. Many refugees have been unable to access social rights such as a social security number (PAAYPA), a tax number (AFM) or a bank account, necessary to get a job or rent an apartment, because of bureaucratic obstacles, language barriers and discrimination. The HELIOS program provides a good start but cannot substitute a comprehensive integration strategy that takes into account that integration efforts need to start from the reception stage.

 

Civil society organisations are especially concerned about the many vulnerable refugees who have been forced to exit or are facing forced exits, including survivors of gender-based violence or torture, people with health issues, including mental health, or disabilities, single women and single-parent families, young adults, and people from the LGBTQ+ community. Many refugees have difficulties or are unable to become self-sufficient because of vulnerabilities or problems accessing essential services and the labour market. In the past, refugees who were asked to exit state-provided accommodation ended up sleeping rough in urban areas or did not leave accommodation out of fear of becoming homeless. 

 

Problems with access to support and services are exacerbated for refugees in camps because of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and the often remote locations of these sites, making it nearly impossible to search for housing, access services or find work. For many refugees in camps, food insecurity is a constant risk as cash assistance is halted within one month while those not enrolled in the HELIOS programme stop receiving food assistance. The announced transit sites for those forced to exit their accomodation only provide a band-aid solution for some refugees and only ever for a maximum of two months. This period is simply not enough for people to become independent and without proper support, the number of homeless people in cities will increase.

 

Ultimately, there is a critical absence of a long-term sustainable strategy for integration and inclusion in Greece that results in increased homelessness and destitution for many people—of whom many are refugees. Civil society organisations call on the Greek government to:

 

    • Urgently take pragmatic measures to ensure that refugees are not evicted during winter and an ongoing pandemic. Focussing on prevention and early intervention and equal access to public services, regarded as essential steps by the European Parliament to end homelessness. 
    • Present a lasting strategy for social security and integration which includes access to adequate and affordable housing, including social housing, to ensure the full and effective enjoyment of human rights, in line with the EU Action plan on Integration and Inclusion.
    • Engage in regular consultation and dialogue with civil society about integration as the EU Action plan on Integration and Inclusion emphasised its necessity to achieve integration and inclusion. 

 

Signatories: 

  1. Aachener Netzwerk für humanitäre Hilfe und interkulturelle Friedensarbeit e.V.
  2. AASIA
  3. Action for Education
  4. Action for Women 
  5. ActionAid Hellas
  6. ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence
  7. ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth 
  8. Better Days
  9. Centre Diotima
  10. Changemakers Lab
  11. Choose Love 
  12. CRIBS International
  13. Dirty Girls of Lesvos 
  14. DRC GREECE
  15. ECHO100PLUS
  16. Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki
  17. Enough is Enough movement
  18. Equal Rights Beyond Borders
  19. Europe Must Act
  20. European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA)
  21. Faros
  22. Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid
  23. foodKIND
  24. Gablitz hilft- Flüchtlingshilfe
  25. Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
  26. Greek Forum of Migrants
  27. HERMINE e.V.
  28. HIAS Greece
  29. Humanity Now: Direct Refugee Relief
  30. HumanRights360 
  31. Humans before Borders
  32. Indigo Volunteers
  33. Intereuropean Human Aid Association
  34. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  35. INTERSOS
  36. INTERSOS Hellas
  37. InterVolve 
  38. Jesuit Refugee Service Greece
  39. Lighthouse Relief (LHR)
  40. Love Welcomes
  41. Mare Liberum
  42. Mobile Info Team
  43. Network for Children’s Rights
  44. Odyssea
  45. One Family – No Borders
  46. One Happy Family
  47. Project Armonia
  48. ReFOCUS Media Labs
  49. Refugee Education and Learning International
  50. Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
  51. Refugee Rights Europe (RRE)
  52. Refugee Trauma Initiative
  53. Refugee Youth Service
  54. RefugeeEd
  55. Refugees International
  56. Samos Volunteers
  57. SAO Association for displaced women
  58. Second Tree
  59. ShowerPower Foundation
  60. SolidarityNow
  61. Soup & Socks e.V.
  62. Still I Rise
  63. Symbiosis – School of Political Studies in Greece, Council of Europe Network of Schools
  64. Terre des hommes Hellas
  65. Thalassa of Solidarity
  66. The Lava Project
  67. Three Peas
  68. UK Must Act
  69. Velos Youth
  70. Verein FAIR.
  71. We Are Here
  72. Willkommen in Nippes
  73. Yoga and Sport For Refugees

 

Photo credit: Steps

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Charging Father of Dead Child is unacceptable

9 November 2020

 

In the early hours of Sunday night, the Hellenic Coast guard was notified of a boat with refugees in distress near the Greek island of Samos. The boat carried around 27 people including families and unaccompanied children. What happened exactly to the boat is unclear but a young boy from Afghanistan tragically lost his life. Survivors were brought to the camp on Samos and are being quarantined.

 

Two men who were on the boat were arrested, the father of the young boy that died (25 years old) and the men who was driving the boat (23 years old). Both had to appear in court this morning and will stay in detention until their sentencing hearing tomorrow. The father of the young boy that died is being charged with endangering a child resulting in death which could result in a minimum sentence up to 10 years in prison. The driver of the boat, which are usually refugees themselves, faces up to 20 years in prison.

 

Commenting on the tragedy, CEO of Help Refugees/Choose Love, Josie Naughton said:

 

“These charges are a direct attack on the right to seek asylum. It is outrageous that a grieving father is being punished for seeking safety for him and his child.”

 

“Criminalising people that are seeking safety and protection shows the failure of the European Union to find a solution to unsafe migration routes that forced thousands to risk their lives to seek protection.”

 

On the need to reform EU migration policy, Josie added:

 

“No one, let alone a child, should lose their life trying to reach safety. What we need now is a clear re-think of EU migration policy, which puts people above politics.”

 

“Sadly, last night was not a one off. It follows a deadly pattern as thousands of people put their lives at risk trying to make their way to Europe on boats, forced to rely on smugglers and criminal organisations on their journeys to seek safety. EU policy was supposed to prevent this. Last night was just one more tragic example of how spectacularly it has failed.”

 

“All the evidence suggests that the shutting of legal routes, combined with the policy of preventing people from landing on the Greek islands (pushbacks), only pushes people into the hands of people traffickers and smugglers. Safe and legal routes to protection must be at the heart of a new European migration policy. A policy that is rights-based, dignified and humane instead of the current obsessive – and deadly – focus on securitisation and externalisation.”

 

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Help spread the word about Choose Love this winter!

Are you an artist, activist or advertising pro? Are you part of a local group that supports refugees? ⁣We need your help to get the word out about this year’s Choose Love shop. ⁣

The Choose Love shop, which enables everyone to buy real products for refugees, helps raise much of the vital funds we need. But with the pandemic and only one very scaled-back real-world shop in London this year, it’s going to be a huge challenge to make this happen. ⁣ ⁣

When we launch our new online shop in November, we need to find ways to keep people talking about Choose Love.

This is where you come in. We know our incredible community is full of brilliant, creative, community-minded people. In November then our shop opens, will you help us spread a message of love, welcome and togetherness?⁣ Could you: ⁣

  • Create an artwork, animation or film about Choosing Love for us to share.⁣
  • Find a beautiful way to show refugees are welcome in your community.⁣
  • Do a distanced stunt or banner drop at a local landmark.⁣
  • Make us your school, university or company’s festive fundraiser. ⁣
  • Record a song about choosing love. ⁣
  • Paint a Choose Love mural.⁣
  • Devote your social profiles to showing love and welcome. ⁣
  • Make your Christmas lights say CHOOSE LOVE!⁣

We’re still a small team, so we may not have as much capacity as we’d like to help you develop your idea, but we may be able to cover your expenses – please get in touch with us to discuss your plans or send us anything you’ve created via creative@helprefugees.org.⁣

With thanks to Holly Thomas for the beautiful illustration.

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