The scale of the refugee crisis is difficult to absorb and understand, and it is easy to feel powerless to help.
In 2015 the statistics from the UNHCR showed that the number of displaced people worldwide was the highest ever at 65 million people. Of these, 21.3 million people were refugees, fleeing their home countries as a result of persecution, war or violence. Over half of these were under the age of 18, and nearly 5 million were from Syria. Many of these refugees are being hosted in camps in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, whilst others travel across Europe through Greece, Italy and the Balkans.
Understanding the statistics is one thing, but these people are not just statistics they are individuals like you and me. They had homes, careers, and social lives; they have children like ours who played sport and played with friends; they had promising futures, hopes and dreams; but they have made the difficult choice to leave and we can barely imagine the horrific circumstances which lead them to this, nor can we imagine what their lives are like now.
Even though it feels like there is little we can do individually, together we can make a difference.
You may have questions about how the High Wycombe group developed and how the aid is sent to places in need so here is a little more information about that.
‘Donations for Refugees’ was started in Sept 2015 by Ann Phipps who visited Calais camp after holiday in France to donate camping equipment.
She started an appeal for donations and was completely overwhelmed.
This coincided with the tragic image of Aylan Kurdi which galvanised a group of individuals in High Wycombe to join Ann in action.
They were offered the disused garden centre at West Wycombe and collecting started in earnest.
Since then they have been homed in 4 different donated sites and have sent a total of 12 containers of aid; 11 to Syria and 1 to Lebanon; pallets to Greece and van loads to Calais
The donations include food, clothes, toiletries, items for mothers and babies, pushchairs (100), even ambulances! In Syria the aid has been sent through charities who are active and experienced in the area including One Nation, WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society Welfare) and Muslims in Need. Aid to Lebanon is coordinated through another local aid agency Salam LADC. Volunteers from Wycombe have gone to help in Calais and Greece and raised money to buy supplies locally.
They have expanded beyond helping refugees (hence the name change to ‘High Wycombe Helping Others’) and linked with other local charities like Wycombe Homeless Connection, Saunderton Lodge, the Dorcas project and One Can Trust and even sent aid to the areas affected by floods last year.