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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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The End of A Dream: Tribute to Mohamed Khamisse Zakaria

Mohamed Khamisse Zakaria, a twenty-year-old Sudanese man, was hit by a car and killed last week in northern France as he tried to escape police tear gas.

 

Yesterday his friends held a funeral. Today they released a tribute to, “our compatriot, our brother, our friend.”

 

This is their heart-breaking memorial.

 


 

On the 19th of November 2020, on the A16 road, a young 20-year-old Sudanese man lost his life and his dreams. He was our compatriot, our brother, our friend.

 

Mohamed died after being hit by a car, as he tried to escape police teargas aimed at him from the back of a lorry, the vehicle of his choice in order to reach England as quickly as possible. Like his friends back home, Mohamed left his family who remain trapped in a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan and courageously tried his luck in Europe. All his compatriots felt rejected in France, so for Mohamed, this country was not an option for claiming asylum. He was racing towards another destination, which ultimately became a sad and grim fate.

 

Mohamed Khamisse Zakaria is mourned by his parents in Sudan and by us, his friends, here on the border with the United Kingdom. We called his parents to tell him of his death. We heard the desperation of a mother. The associations and organisations were at our side. Mohamed brings us all together. We all harbour within us the same desire to live that he had.

 

Our hearts, our consciences and the conscience of humanity cry out as we think of his 20 years of life. Here is an echo of our cry, that of the displaced people of Calais: “We do not know what to do, we would like to the enter the UK legally, we dream of a life of dignity, of a human life. The circumstances weaken us, but our hearts are strong, and hope pushes up to cross borders. As you know, our country is experiencing war and injustice at the hands of governments. As you know, we are here out of necessity, after having gone through many sufferings on the road. The police and governments must understand this. Why chase us down the motorway when detectors and security personnel are already sifting through every truck entering England?”

 

O absent yet so present,

By means of your voice, the greatness of your soul,

The breath of your lips comes to us,

From our hands are born lines,

Filled with the colors of freedom, peace and justice

Mohamed’s traveling companions

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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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We’re hiring! Apply to join us as Head of Digital Fundraising and Campaigns

HEAD OF DIGITAL FUNDRAISING AND CAMPAIGNS

 

Application deadline: 9am, 9th December.

 

About Choose Love

Our Vision: a world that chooses love and justice every day for everyone.
Our Mission: we do whatever it takes to identify, close and prevent gaps in services and protections for refugees and displaced people globally.

 

  • Do work that inspires. Every day at Choose Love is an opportunity to make a real, tangible
    difference to the lives of refugees and displaced people.
  • Collaborate with creative, exciting people that really care. Work with friendly, smart, dedicated
    people for whom this is more than a job – it’s a passion.
  • Be part of a brave, innovative start-up spirit. We’re a young organisation with big ambition.
    We’re fast, flexible and creative, always learning and not afraid to take risks.

 

About the Job

Choose Love seeks a Head of Digital Fundraising and Campaigns to lead the strategy and execution of the organization’s digital communications. Working closely with the Creative Director of Brand Communications and Campaigns and the Digital Fundraising and Campaigns Manager, this role is responsible for leading the strategy and overseeing the day to day management of Choose Love’s digital presence, with a particular focus on innovative and effective digital fundraising and advocacy campaigns, email marketing and digital advertising and acquisition.

Fundraising and Advocacy Campaigns 

  • Develop and execute innovative and effective digital fundraising strategy and campaigns – inclusive of digital/social advertising, supporter acquisition and email marketing – across Choose Love’s various channels to engage different audiences, moving individuals from awareness to action. 
  • Oversee the Digital Officer’s day to day management of all donation and advocacy platforms, including payment gateways, merchandise, text-to-donate platforms and third-party content-management systems.  
  • Keep abreast of data security legislation, payment/fraud legislation and cyber security to ensure compliance across the UK (with Prism support) and US.

Digital Marketing / Advertising 

  • Develop and execute digital advertising strategy across all platforms – website, email Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to achieve the core goals of any individual campaign (e.g. supporter acquisition, fundraising, etc.).  
  • Craft compelling content for digital ads and campaigns, as well as aspects of social media, emails, and other creative materials. 

Digital Presence   

  • Develop strategy for Choose Love website and related web Properties (e.g. Choose Love store)  – including a content plan, target metrics and SEO and advertising.
  • Oversee all website updates/refreshes in collaboration with the Digital Officer and external consultants
  • Oversee the Digital Officer’s day-to-day updates to the website, including direct content updates via WordPress and Shopify.
  • Responsible for managing website hosting, domain names, and security.

Supporter Data Management and Analysis 

  • Support the Digital Officer in the oversight and management of Choose Love’s CRM and integration with other tools, including email marketing, fundraising and advocacy platforms.
  • Support the Digital Officer in their analysis of Choose Love’s digital data, including: website analytics, social media, supporter actions, donations, and emails. Leverage this analysis to inform future communications and fundraising efforts. 
  • Work closely with the Digital Officer to develop and execute a strategy for audience segmentation and user journeys to move individuals from general supporters to donors and advocates to champions. 

 

About you

  • Have minimum 5-7 years of digital communications experience working for a nonprofit, media outlet, brand, political campaign or ad agency. 
  • Are an innovative, creative thinker, leader and do-er who is equally comfortable building a strategy, directing staff and rolling up your sleeves to get the work done on Day 1.
  • Have proven track record of running effective digital fundraising and advocacy campaigns.
  • Have your finger on the pulse of cutting edge digital tools and strategies 
  • Not only have experience but enjoy managing a team, providing both leadership and coaching to help your colleagues grow and reach their full potential. Management style includes care and compassion.
  • Experience with US and UK digital communication and marketing preferred.
  • Experienced with the following tools and comfortable being in charge of day-to-day management of platforms: WordPress, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Facebook Business Manager, Instagram and Twitter. 
  • Experience with the following tools and platforms a plus: Engaging Networks, Shopify, Blackbaud CRM, donation platforms, social media analytics tools. Knowledge of HTML/CSS also a plus. 
  • Acute attention to detail and able to juggle multiple projects. 
  • Possess authentic passion for Choose Love’s mission and work. Lived experience of any kind is a plus. 
  • Are willing to listen and learn, making space for ideas and approaches that are different than your own.
  • Proven ability to oversee a wide portfolio of projects and to manage multiple competing deadlines.
  • Take ownership of and initiative in everything you do, while understanding how to work across teams. 

 

How to apply

Choose Love wishes to encourage applications from a wide variety of backgrounds who can drive and inspire change for refugees and displaced people. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic candidates, and candidates with disabilities.

Choose Love promotes equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace. We make employment decisions by matching business needs with skills and experience of candidates, irrespective of age, disability (including hidden disabilities), gender, gender identity or gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. We are happy to talk about flexible working and we promote a workplace where you can be your authentic self and achieve success based only on your merit.


Salary: £40k – 50k depending on experience

Please apply with a cover letter (of no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for the role and a copy of your CV to digitaljobs@choose.love 

Application deadline: 9am, 9th December 2020

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We’re hiring! Apply to join us as Impact and Research Manager

IMPACT AND RESEARCH MANAGER

 

Application deadline: 9am, 23rd November.

 

About Choose Love

Our Vision: a world that chooses love and justice every day for everyone.
Our Mission: we do whatever it takes to identify, close and prevent gaps in services and protections for refugees and displaced people globally.

 

  • Do work that inspires. Every day at Choose Love is an opportunity to make a real, tangible
    difference to the lives of refugees and displaced people.
  • Collaborate with creative, exciting people that really care. Work with friendly, smart, dedicated
    people for whom this is more than a job – it’s a passion.
  • Be part of a brave, innovative start-up spirit. We’re a young organisation with big ambition.
    We’re fast, flexible and creative, always learning and not afraid to take risks.

 

About the Job

Choose Love seeks an Impact and Research Manager to create, implement and run a unique. Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning system (MEL) for our work. This person will lead on the strategy and execution of data collection and analysis across the organisation.

We are looking for an innovator who thrives on developing structures from scratch, especially in contexts where data can be hard to collect. We are seeking someone who can spot opportunities to collect and analyse data, in order to better understand our impact and to inform our advocacy work and strategic direction. This role will lead on research to contribute to the efforts of the Advocacy and Communications teams. The ideal candidate will be a collaborative team-player with an interest in strategy and systems change.

Purpose of role:

  • To design and manage MEL activities related to our grants
  • To collate and best utilise information and data from partners along the migration route in order to show the impact of our work, contribute to our evidence-based advocacy efforts, communications and strategic funding decisions

Activities

    • To audit Choose Love’s current processes for MEL across the organisation
      Define what information is needed from our partners and devise methodologies and systems to extract data
    • Contribute to the strengthening our fast and flexible grant-making, grant management and reporting processes
    • Regularly collect and analyse data and information from the ground, disseminate findings internally and externally
    • Identify themes within Choose Love’s data, which will feed into programme design and strategic direction for the organisation
    • Develop system to chart the advocacy efforts of our partners
    • Occasionally support partner organisations to strengthen the capacity of their MEL activities
    • Develop creative ways of presenting data, accessible in different formats for fundraising, advocacy and communications
    • Respond to internal requests for data analysis and reporting
    • Liaise with partners to gather enhanced data and information on specific topics
    • Monitor and compile regular updates from the field, including developing a system for generating breaking news
    • Identify and collate trends (eg, breaches of rights) through monitoring and documentation, working closely with Programmes, Advocacy and Communications teams Gather evidence from the public domain, including making FOIs
    • Perform targeted research to produce information for donor reports, research reports, briefings etc
    • Work across teams to ensure all employees are data literate and are able to interpret Help Refugees data to the benefit of their area of work

 

About you

Essential:
● Experience working with data and leading MEL in the charity sector
● Experience devising methodologies for data collection and analysis
● Experience working with civil society and grassroots groups
● Experience using data for research and advocacy purposes
● Strong quantitative and qualitative data analysis skills
● Experience conducting evaluations, report writing and presenting findings in engaging ways
● Knowledge of specific issues relating to forced displacement, such as unaccompanied children
● Strong planner with excellent time-management, organisational and prioritisation skills
● Acute attention to detail and ability to juggle multiple projects
● Willing to listen and learn, making space for ideas and approaches that are different than your own
● Ability to work independently and proactively
Desirable:
● Experience using data for research and advocacy purposes

 

How to apply

Choose Love wishes to encourage applications from a wide variety of backgrounds who can drive and inspire change for refugees and displaced people. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic candidates, and candidates with disabilities.

Choose Love promotes equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace. We make employment decisions by matching business needs with skills and experience of candidates, irrespective of age, disability (including hidden disabilities), gender, gender identity or gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. We are happy to talk about flexible working and we promote a workplace where you can be your authentic self and achieve success based only on your merit.

The role will be managed by the Head of Programmes.
In non-COVID times the role is based out of the Help Refugees office in Somerset House, London.
The role may involve some travel, when lockdown restrictions ease.
The role will be offered as permanent role with a six-month probation period.
Salary: £38k – 40k depending on experience

Please apply with a cover letter (of no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for the role and a copy of your CV to impact@choose.love 

Application deadline: 9am, 23rd November 2020

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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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A message from a refugee stuck in the Napier Barracks

Nima fled his home in Iran looking for safety. After making the dangerous crossing to the UK, he was moved to Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent – an ex-military facility that is now a holding site for around 400 people who came seeking refuge in the UK. He dreams of studying politics at university, but instead his life, dreams and hopes are on hold. Nima sent us his story, with a request to share it. These are his words:

You know, recently I’ve encountered an internal conflict that I can’t get over or seem to resolve. I keep telling myself, Nima you should be happy. Nima you’re in England. Nima you have a chance. Nima you have friends here. Nima England is multicultural and you won’t stand out as a refugee. But no. Nima you’re in a camp. Nima you have to start the whole process again. Nima you don’t know if you’ll make it. Nima you may not get asylum. Nima Nima Nima. Who have you become? 

I got to the UK on a Monday with my best friend. After all this time he has become my brother and one of the most important people in my life. We’re not together anymore, and it feels like I’ve been stripped of my own family for the second time. 

“It was in London where I was given the freedom and opportunity to feel normal again. After all this time I felt like a human, no different from every other human”

When we arrived they called my name and said they’d send me somewhere. The only thing I asked for was for Omid to come with me. Dont leave me alone. Please. We made it this far, together. Why wouldn’t we continue together? It’s not my journey. It’s our journey. And doing it without him translates into emptiness. An emptiness that doesn’t fit inside me. 

They moved me somewhere. Somewhere is the only word I can use. I have no idea where it was. I was in the middle of the unknown. I had no wifi, no phone, no Omid. I didn’t know what they’d do with me. After all they could do whatever they wanted to. No one would ever know. We’re just faceless people stepped on by those who have documents. I wanted to tell my family I am alive because they hadn’t heard from their son for more than 20 days. But I couldn’t. I knew that would make them suffer so much. 

The only thing I remember doing on the first day I arrived was pushing doors. Pushing doors, harder and harder. But all of them were locked. Just like my future, my dreams and my hope. I wouldn’t leave that place. That would be the end of me. I couldn’t breathe anymore. 

Eight days after they moved me to London and I could finally find happiness. It was the best time I’ve had since I’ve reached the UK. It was in London where I was given the freedom and opportunity to feel normal again. After all this time I felt like a human, no different from every other human. I asked strangers to help me find an address, and they helped me, politely, because I’m not just a refugee. 

You know, I never realised I got trauma from my time on Samos. I built a life there. I created long-lasting meaningful relationships. I worked and I had a bed. But I soon understood that I never felt normal there. In London I kept telling myself, Nima you’re a refugee, why are people nice to you?! It doesn’t make sense. You’re someone they don’t like. Because for three years in Greece I thought I had no rights. Entrance to places and restaurants was forbidden for people like me. I was a refugee and I thought being a refugee means you’re not human and you can’t talk to strangers and strangers will certainly not want to talk to you.

I was only in London for two weeks and I already could start to find myself again. It only took two weeks to feel in the right place, gain direction and sense of life. I wanted to be helpful by helping homeless people, I found a charity that accepted me as a volunteer. 

After my first day at the charity, I was moved to the camp in Folkestone. And here we go again. The spiral continues. I lost everything again.

“We’re surrounded by fences. It’s a prison camp. It’s a trap.”

When I arrived in the camp I saw someone being beaten up by racist people who started shouting at us, yelling that we should leave England and go back to where we came from. We’re not welcome. We’re unwanted. It seems people are repulsed by us. 

There are around 400 people living here. We queue for food. We’re surrounded by fences. It’s a prison camp. It’s a trap. Some people self harm. Someone claimed he’d hang himself unless he was transferred soon. I had to translate his words and listen to his devastating story. It hurt me, I could understand his frustrations. He magnified my hopelessness.

I lost my self confidence and my hope. I started feeling I’m not human. I’m not worth a human life. I don’t know what will happen to me. Maybe I’ll be the one being beaten in public tomorrow. 

So I decided to sleep for a week. I prayed that one day I’ll wake up from this nightmare in Iran with my parents, eating the food they always cook for me, smelling their smell. For a week I quit. I couldn’t think about university and all the plans I had. I couldn’t try one more time. I can’t accept failure anymore without resenting it and myself. I don’t want to hate myself even more, it’s enough and too heavy to deal with already.

I don’t know for how long I’ll be here. I don’t know if i’ll ever leave this place. I don’t know where I’ll go. Life is always surprising us. I just wish they could be good surprises.


If you’d like to be part of efforts to support the new residents of the Napier Barracks, follow the work of the brilliant local group Kent Refugee Action Network

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November Collection Weekend

UPDATE

 

Due to the announcements from the UK Government on Saturday 7th November announcing a second national lockdown, we have now postponed this collection. Please do not attempt to drop items at any collection points while restrictions are in place.

You can still help us prepare for the winter in Calais by donating the desperately needed item, through the Choose Love shop. Buy the items here:

– Tents
– Blankets
– Sleeping bags
– Winter warmers


 

There are some things no one should go without. Help us provide tents, bedding and warm clothes in Northern France this winter.

 

Winter is fast approaching and as temperature begin to drop we need you help to ensure that hundreds of people, sleeping in camps or on roadsides, stay dry and warm.

 

Help us by collecting and donating items at your nearest drop off point on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of November. If you are able to get together with friends, family and neighbours and pool supplies and logistics that would be incredible. These are the items our partners most need right now so please do only bring items from this list:

 

– Tents
– Sleeping bags
– Blankets
– Men’s hats and gloves
– Men’s scarves and snoods
– Men’s socks and new boxer shorts
– Men’s thermal leggings

 

Our main priorities are small and medium size clothing for men. Large and extra large clothing is still needed but in lesser numbers. We are only collecting clothing for men because stock levels are very low while women and children’s clothes remain in good stock.

 

If you can’t travel or don’t have tents to donate, you can still buy tents, blankets and warm clothes for refugees and displaced people from the Choose Love store – just go to www.choose.love.

 

This project is in partnership with:

Logos for Tent Collective

 

Header photo taken in winter 2019, Calais.

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We’re hiring! Apply to join us as Policy & Advocacy Officer

POLICY AND ADVOCACY OFFICER

 

Application deadline: 9am, Thursday 5th November.

Choose Love seeks a talented and creative Policy & Advocacy Officer to secure policy changes that promote the rights, justice and dignity of displaced people.

  • Do work that inspires. Every day at Choose Love is an opportunity to make a real, tangible difference to the lives of refugees and displaced people.
  • Collaborate with creative, exciting people that really care. Work with friendly, smart, dedicated people for whom this is more than a job – it’s a passion.
  • Be part of a brave, innovative start-up spirit. We’re a young organisation with big ambition. We’re nimble, always learning and not afraid to take risks.

 

About Choose Love

  • Our Vision: a world that chooses love and justice every day for everyone.
  • Our Mission: we do whatever it takes to identify, close and prevent gaps in services and protections for refugees and displaced people globally.  

 

About the Job

Choose Love seeks a talented and creative Policy & Advocacy Officer to secure policy changes that promote the rights, justice and dignity of displaced people.

Policy & advocacy work:

  • Map targets, moments and tactics for achieving change
  • Develop key messages and policy positions using evidence from our partners and in consultation with Choose Love staff, partners and experts by experience
  • Create thoughtful policy recommendations & actions to create meaningful long term change
  • Prepare high quality, evidence-based policy submissions, briefings and responses to Bills
  • Work with our field teams, programmes team and partners to gather data to inform policy work
  • Research, evidence gathering and copy editing for reports to inform advocacy goals
  • Provide evidence for witness statements for strategic litigation cases that advance policy objectives

External Relations:

  • Develop relationships and conduct advocacy with government departments, parliamentary bodies, oversight bodies and other political influencing targets
  • Develop strategic partnerships at local and national levels with allies and relevant institutional bodies
  • Promote the input and voices of experts by experience at external engagements
  • Create and maintain database of parliamentary and other advocacy targets
  • Represent the organisation at external meetings

Other:

  • Provide specialist and up to date knowledge on the rights of displaced people and unaccompanied children
  • Act as a spokesperson for the organisation, when relevant
  • Undertake any other work, as required

 

About you

  • Have minimum 2-3 years experience working doing policy and advocacy work for an NGO or political campaign, ideally relating to the rights of displaced people
  • Possess authentic passion for Choose Love’s mission and work. Lived experience of any kind is a plus. 
  • Knowledge of UK and international refugee law and policy and a strong understanding of issues facing displaced people
  • Proven experience of delivering policy impact
  • Experience amplifying the voices of people with lived experience
  • A good working knowledge of Parliamentary procedures, and the structure and workings of the Government
  • Exceptional writer and editor with meticulous attention for detail, including in order to influence policy and raise public awareness.
  • Are willing to listen and learn, making space for ideas and approaches that are different than your own.
  • Proven ability to oversee a wide range of tasks and to manage multiple competing deadlines.
  • Take ownership of and initiative in everything you do, while understanding how to work across teams.

 

How to apply

Choose Love wishes to encourage applications from a wide variety of backgrounds who can drive and inspire change for refugees and displaced people. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic candidates, and candidates with disabilities.

Choose Love promotes equality, diversity and inclusion in our workplace. We make employment decisions by matching business needs with skills and experience of candidates, irrespective of age, disability (including hidden disabilities), gender, gender identity or gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation. We are happy to talk about flexible working and we promote a workplace where you can be your authentic self and achieve success based only on your merit.

This role will be full-time, based in London and the salary is £28-35k.

Please apply with a cover letter (of no more than two pages) outlining your suitability for the role and a copy of your CV to advocacy@helprefugees.org. We are particularly interested in any examples of work you’ve led that demonstrate the requirements above. Please include links to any examples you feel are relevant.

 

Application deadline: 9am, Thursday 5th November.

Interviews w/c: 16 November

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