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This Is How British People Are Helping Support Syrian Refugees

Grassroots campaigns to raise money for Syrian refugees have been springing up across Britain, and this is how you can support them.

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When images of the drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi emerged last week, amid news of a trainful of refugees stranded in Hungary, support for Europe's refugee crisis surged across the UK.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

As well as established charities including Unicef, Save the Children, and the British Red Cross, which have continued their efforts to send aid to refugees, a number of grassroots campaigns sprung up across social media after people were moved to take action by the harrowing images and reports of people desperately fleeing their war-torn countries.

A heat map of charity donations via Just Giving between 3 August and 3 September 2015.

Here are some of the individuals and local establishments, such as cafes and pubs, who have been lending their support, either through raising money for larger charities, or offering their time to bring essential supplies to refugees – and, more important, information on how you can still help them too...

Acclaimed young adult fiction author Patrick Ness has so far raised over half a million pounds for Save the Children after he "wanted to do something, anything more than just complain about [the crisis] on Twitter," he told BuzzFeed News.

Shaun Curry / AFP/Getty Images
Virgin Money

Just over a week ago, Ness set out to raise £20,000 for Save the Children's Child Refugee Appeal, which he said has been "specifically targeted at the crisis in the Mediterranean, with money ring-fenced for Syrian refugees". He pledged that he would match funds up to £10,000, but his total raised quickly shot up when other authors including Jojo Moyes, John Green and Derek Landy matched his pledge. "The support from other writers is SO moving and vital to the momentum," he told BuzzFeed News.

On the phenomenal success of the fundraising page, he said: "I just happened to get angry at the right moment and found a lot of people who were angry too."

Moyes told BuzzFeed News that she came across Ness's page when she, like many, felt powerless at "the sight of a never-ending stream of human misery from Syria," as well as "shell-shocked by that image of the drowned little boy in his good shoes". She said: "It brought home more than anything that these were people just like us. I asked myself, 'If it was my family being driven away from home, desperate to protect my children, what would I want of any other citizen?' And then it was very easy to donate."

You can donate to Save the Children via Patrick Ness's page here.

The Coach and Horses pub in Soho, central London, has raised over £13,000 for refugees in Calais.

The Coach and Horses
The Coach and Horses

Having set out to raise £5,000 to provide food for refugees in Calais, this pub had raised £13,177 by the time its fundraising closed on Sunday.

"We are a Great British pub, we are there for people whatever their situation or background. We provide good food, good drinks, good company and good times," its Just Giving page said. "We believe that British values don't belong to rom-coms or the Conservatives – they are for people and we can show them best."

Tom Radcliffe and Shizuka Maruta, a couple from Kent, have raised over £50,000 to bring aid to refugees at the camp known as "The Jungle" in Calais after an initial trip at their own expense showed them that people were in dire need of supplies.

Shizuka Maruta
Kent for Calais

"I saw a clip online of a Syrian mum and son in Calais where the son's leg was injured after they'd tried to sneak on to a lorry, and it was so awful that myself and my partner decided immediately to go to Calais to help," Radcliffe told BuzzFeed News. "We booked the Eurotunnel and bought supplies, but when we started talking to people we realised the extent of what they needed, and started crowdfunding to raise money for help as soon as we got back."

They initially set out to raise a further £1,000 in order to buy food and tents for refugees, but the total raised rocketed up when TV personality Dawn O'Porter tweeted her support.

The best way to help right now is to donate here THANK YOU.

Radcliffe told us that following O'Porter's tweet, their donations "doubled in 24 hours". There has been a "steady avalanche of volunteers and people offering to drive" since the images of Aylan Kurdi caused public outcry, he said.

As well as funds, the couple have collected physical donations including hundreds of tents, which a haulage company has volunteered to drive to Calais free of charge, before continuing to Hungary and Greece with any supplies that are not used there.

"The hardest thing for the refugees we've met is what the press have said about them," Radcliffe said.

"They say, 'You don't think we're all thieves and bad people, do you?' They're running away from possibly being killed and the reaction has been incredibly painful for them.

"But British people are now realising that they've been wrong about this, and refugees have found it heartening to see a change in the way they are perceived."

You can continue to donate to the Kent for Calais Just Giving page until Friday.

These lawyers are donating one billable hour's worth of their fees to Save the Children, which is directly helping young people fleeing from Syria.

Sean Jones / Via

London-based employment lawyer Sean Jones asked the legal community to donate a billable hour's worth of their fees after being inspired by Patrick Ness's efforts. "I thought, Well done, authors, and then realised uneasily that I could not think of anything lawyers were doing," he told the Metro.

His initial target of £7,000 doubled within two hours after the #BillableHour hashtag took off on Twitter, and donations from legal professionals around the world poured in to the sum of £162,226.19 at the time of writing.

As #BillableHour Appeal for @savechildrenuk refugee work goes past £157k, here is another #billablehero

Whether you're a lawyer, or you're simply inspired by lawyers who have pledged an hour's worth of their fees, you can donate to Billable Hour here.

A family in Thurrock, Essex, has so far raised almost £10,000 to buy supplies and take them to refugees who need food, shelter, and aid in "The Jungle" in Calais.


Rachel Hattingh Marshall and her family had an initial target of £500 and "a car boot load of food" to take to refugees in Calais, but they have already surpassed that to a sum of nearly £10,000.

"When I first heard about the terrible conditions in Calais about six weeks ago I realised that I could actually do something to help as Calais is only an hour-long drive plus the ferry trip," Hattingh Marshall told BuzzFeed News. "I contacted a local organisation called Transformation Thurrock who put out a call to all church leaders in Thurrock to ask people to donate essential survival items for us to take over."

"My husband and five children are also very involved," she added. "My 9-year-old donated for the school and made them a sign, and my 13-year-old has been shifting and sorting donations."

Rachel Hattingh Marshall

Rachel Hattingh Marshall with her children who have been helping with fundraising.

Social media has been instrumental in gathering donations, both financial and physical, she told us. "Facebook has been great for networking with the many other people who want to help. I got most help from a group on there called Calais – People to People Solidarity and also from lovely people in London who set up London2Calais convoy."

Donations also skyrocketed after Hattingh Marshall's page was featured in The Independent. "Our total went from £240 to £9,000 within a few days!" she said.

Right now the main concern is how money can be spent to get the refugees through the winter ahead. "I'm going over on Monday to speak to one of my contacts about how best to spend the money and take tents, sleeping bags, and food that have been donated," Hattingh Marshall said.

"We have been given so much. People have been extremely generous," she added.

You can donate to their page here.

Salt Café in Bristol is going to give half its takings on Friday to Red Cross Europe's Refugee Crisis Appeal.

Salt Café / Via Facebook: saltcafebristol

This cosy Bristol Café has pledged to give half of its Friday profits to the British Red Cross, which plans to use funds to provide food, water, and medical care to refugees arriving on the shores in Greece. It is also working to keep refugee families together and helping with search and rescue.

So if you're in Bristol, could you find a better excuse to splash out on a nice lunch and a bit of cake this Friday?

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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