The death of Alan Kurdi brought home the reality of the humanitarian crisis on our doorstep, the largest refugee crisis in generations with 12 million people in Syria in need of urgent help, and four 4 million having fled the country.
The UK government has been a global leader in providing funding to support people on the ground in neighbouring countries, but the UN estimate 420,000 of the most vulnerable people need to be resettled to safer environments. To date we’ve taken less than 5,000, compared to 35,000 pledged by Germany, 10,000 by Canada and 9,000 by Norway.
This guide outlines simple steps to move from anger and sadness to action, how we can make a practical difference.
STEP ONE - Voluntary Action
A major barrier to resettling people in the UK is a lack of available accommodation. We have issued an urgent call to find 5,000 people with empty properties or properties they could make available to resettle refugees.
- Could you or someone you know provide accommodation? Speak to them and ask them to sign up here http://www.citizensuk.org/help_find_homes_for_syrian_refugees
- Share the call out on facebook, twitter and by email
- Are you a member of a local church, residents association or community group? Get them passing the word
STEP TWO – Communities Working Together
UN’s Gateway Programme resettles vulnerable people through local council. A range of authorities from all parties have already signed up: Kingston, Newcastle, Islington, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Birmingham – we need every council in the country signing up and the biggest to resettle hundreds of vulnerable people. You can make this happen by:
- Writing to your local councillors asking them to commit to resettling people – www.writetothem.com
- Go on your council’s website and find the email address for the leader, write to them too. Make sure you let George.Gabriel@citizensuk.org know if you get a response!
- Organise a public action in your town to push this up the council’s agenda. You could run a stall, set up a mini refugee camp in a public square, organise a local petition
- Build a local group. The crisis isn’t going to be over in a matter of weeks or months. Research what groups in your community might want to help and organise a first meet up, advertising online and writing, and calling as many people and groups as you can. Let us know - email George.Gabriel@citizensuk.org
STEP THREE – National Action
We need national government to act. David Cameron has committed to resettling “thousands” but we can do better.
- Write to your MP asking them to pressure their party leadership to commit to resettling at least 10,000 a year for a minimum of two years running, and to raise it with the Prime Minister
- Sign up for national action at www.citizensuk.org whether it be participating in a vigil for those who’ve died so far on the 8th of September – a central vigil is to be held outside Westminster Cathedral at 7pm in London, others are free to organise their own; a day of action as has also been called on Saturday 12th of September. Visit http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/ for more details and Avaaz too https://secure.avaaz.org/en/no_more_drownings_uk/?fpla
For a comprehensive briefing on the state of play regarding Syrian refugees please see http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06805#fullreport
For those of you most passionate about making a difference here please email George.firstname.lastname@example.org directly to discuss how you can contribute. We have weekly skype calls to help support local groups, and volunteers are welcome to support across the board.