When Afghan families started to arrive in Oxfordshire at the beginning of September, many of us wanted to show our support but weren’t sure how. So we produced a list of 12 actions that anyone can do from their homes to show solidarity with refugees. Now, as part of the Youth Week of Action, we have put together a new list designed especially for children and young people.
1. Show your heart!
Consider putting up one of our ‘I Stand With Refugees’ stickers in your window. You can collect a sticker from our office, or if you are part of a local group, we can send some over to you. Send us a picture of the orange heart sticker in your window and we’ll put it up on our website.
2. Get Creative
The orange heart is a symbol of refugee support, so creating an orange heart is a way of saying ‘I care about refugees’. You could paint, draw, cut out, colour in, create a collage or even try to knit an orange heart. If you can take a picture of yourself holding your artwork and send it to email@example.com, even better! (For under-18s, please ask a parent to sign our picture consent form, available on request, if sending in a picture,)
3. Say ‘Welcome’
More than 250 people have already sent a message of welcome to refugees in Oxfordshire using our orange heart postcards. What message would you like to send? Pick up a postcard from our office, or send a message through our online form.
4. Write a Letter
You’re never too young to tell your MP if you think there’s something we should be doing to help refugees (don’t know who your MP is? Find out here) A story, a handwritten letter or a picture sent to your MP can catch their attention. If you write, try to make it personal and specific to your concerns. Making it relevant to what is going on in your community is particularly powerful.
5. Read a Book
There are books for all ages to learn about refugees. What is a Refugee by Elise Gravel is a good introduction for very young children. Other children’s books include The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf, The Jasmine Sneeze and Leila Answer Me by Nadine Kaadan, and Who are Refugees and Migrants? What makes people leave their homes? And other big questions by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young. Books for older audiences include Gulwali Passarlay’s autobiography The Lightless Sky, Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By The Sea and books by Khaled Hosseini.
6. Learn about Little Amal
Little Amal represents thousands of child refugees who must travel alone through Europe. Learn more about her, and about them, by watching the this video. Schools may also find the Walk with Amal Education Programme valuable in the classroom.
7. Watch a Video
The Refugee Week website contains a number of short educational videos for children. We also recommend Save the Children’s What is a Refugee? For older age groups, some powerful films made by unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people in the UK are available through the #survivingtothriving tag on YouTube. Michael Winterbottom’s documentary In This World follows two unaccompanied children on their journey to the UK, Sitting in Limbo is available on iPlayer, and Home is a Channel 4 comedy about a Syrian refugee living with a British family in the UK.
Have a think about what fundraising events you might be able to at school, at home, or as part of a club. How about a bake sale, lemonade stall, sponsored walk or run, or a talent show? Offer to do jobs for your parents, guardians or neighbours such as cleaning the car or helping around the house to raise money. Think what ‘sponsored’ event you could do – a sponsored silence is often popular with parents! Family fitness challenges can work well too, such as a walk, hike or cycle ride. Get in touch if you’d like to set up your own fundraising event.
9. Join a Club
Is there a club or organisation you could join? Perhaps an Amnesty International group at your school? If not, perhaps you might be able to work with some friends to set a group up. Take a look at this Youth Activist Toolkit and research young activist champions for inspiration.
10. Talk to your Teachers
Join forces with your friends and ask if you can have an assembly at school or opportunity to do a school project on what being a child refugee might be like. You can ask your teachers about becoming a School of Sanctuary, where you can have a much bigger impact and get everyone involved. Schools of Sanctuary have also produced a Schools Activity Pack which has lots of ideas and useful resources in it.
11. Learn a Few Phrases
Even a few words in another language can go a long way to helping someone feel welcome in a new place. Not only that, but learning a few sentences in a language like Arabic or Pashto can help us understand how tricky it can be to arrive in a new place and learn a new language. There are lots of free language-learning resources online, such as Duolingo, and YouTube videos with interactive basic language skills including simple greetings and thanks. Many children’s books are available in multiple languages such as First Thousand Words – Arabic.
12. Share, but take care!
If you’re on social media, why not add an orange heart next to your name to show solidarity with refugees. Share and like posts from trusted sources that raise awareness about the experience and situation for refugees and asylum seekers. However, we always need to be careful about what we read and share online, because some stories are ‘fake news’. If you’re not sure something is true, check with someone you trust before sharing.