1. Offer your home
A woman in Iceland made international news after starting a Facebook group offering her home to Syrian refugees. In response, ordinary citizens from around the world have started home-sharing initiatives similar to Iceland’s to ensure that refugees have places to stay. Here’s a few:
- A German couple started a service called Refugees Welcome that matches asylum-seekers with potential German housemates.
- In Canada, citizens have led an organization called Lifeline Syria which aims to help resettle at least 1,000 Syrian refugees in Toronto in the next couple of years.
- Hungarians started the Migszol Szeged (“Migrant solidarity group”) Facebook group after realizing that Syrian and Afghan refugees were being left out on the streets at night. The group had 1,000 members join within three or four days and now has over 2,500 members. The group has attracted local medical students to help with the conditions, and sometimes, their random requests posted on the Facebook wall get immediately answered. As one volunteer said, they’ll post “something like ‘we are running low on apples’ and people bring them.”
- In France, the Welcome to France project run by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has also provided more than 6,200 nights of accommodation to refugees (some estimate that only half of all asylum seekers in France have access to accommodation). They also organize French lessons, meet-ups and clothing exchanges. Originally begun in Paris in 2010, it’s now expanding to cities like Dijon, Bordeaux and Valence.
2. Sign a petition
Recently, the Independent listed several petitions that allow ordinary citizens to let their voices be heard. Here’s a few:
- The Independent’s petition for Britain to accept more refugees (others ask for the same)
- A petition for a more compassionate Euro-wide policy towards refugees and migrants
- A petition to end the Calais crisis
- A petition signed by people offering to house Syrian refugees
- A petition to the US to resettle more Syrian refugees
- The International Rescue Committee has opportunities to mentor refugee families and help refugees find jobs at all of its 22 offices.
- Citizens UK helps volunteers lobby local councils on behalf of refugees.
4. Donate money
An article in the Guardian listed several organizations seeking donations. Here’s a few:
- Migrant Offshore Aid Station runs independent rescue boats to rescue migrants at risk of drowning. Médecins Sans Frontières also has three rescue ships in the Mediterranean.
- The Aylan Kurdi Fund was set up in honor of the drowned boy that circulated through social media. All proceeds go to Hand in Hand for Syria.
- At the Refugee Council, a donation of £100 pays for the education and travel of two children for a week.
- At Unicef, a £9 could provide an emergency water kit for a family.
- At the British Red Cross, a donation of £30 could buy 28 mats to help refugees cope with the cold.
These days, anyone can use a crowdfunding website to create a cause they’re passionate about online and help others get involved. Many people have crowdfunded to support refugee job-training programs, English lessons, basic supplies and more. The crowdfunding website Just Giving is a great place to start exploring.