‘We cannot walk alone’: INTO Giving marks Refugee Week 2021

‘We cannot walk alone’: INTO Giving marks Refugee Week 2021

INTO Giving International Refugee Week

Monday, 14 June, was the start of Refugee Week, a time to reflect on the resilience and contributions of people who have been displaced from their homes and countries worldwide. For INTO Giving, INTO’s philanthropic arm, this week marks the latest in a series of efforts to highlight the importance of education for refugee children, culminating in a communication campaign and a speaker event in partnership with Children on the Edge (COTE), Lebanon.

According to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, some 80 million people around the world had been forcibly displaced from their homes as of mid-2020.  26.3 million were refugees, around half of whom were under the age of 18.

Adding to the already-significant barriers refugees encounter to access fundamental human rights like health care and education, the pandemic has disproportionately affected those who have been forced to flee from their homes and countries.  While laying bare the deep inequalities that exist between refugees and other global citizens, COVID-19 has also taught us that we share an interconnected world—that the safety of all depends on coordination, inclusion, and solidarity.

In line with that lesson, and driven by a belief in the power of education to transform lives, INTO Giving has a history of partnering with projects that give refugee children the chance to learn and play, and that support their educators.  Since 2017, they have contributed more than £45,000/$63,000 to Project Hope 4 KidsJusoor, and Children on the Edge, three organisations and projects that support child refugees in Greece and Lebanon.

“INTO Giving supports refugees because we know what a good education can provide,” Gemma Hewett, fundraising and communications officer for INTO Giving, explained.  “It provides greater opportunity and broader horizons.”

Not painting with broad strokes, the INTO Giving team’s nuanced approach pinpoints supportive services that enable refugee children to make the most of their education, such as trauma therapy, meal provision, and transport. 

“A child cannot learn if they are so traumatised they cannot concentrate or so hungry they cannot function in the classroom,” Hewett elaborated.

As INTO Giving has established philanthropic partnerships, it has garnered the support of students and staff in INTO centres.  Over the course of the spring semester, an ambitious group of INTO Manchester students raised £1,500 for a variety of INTO Giving partner projects, including COTE.  The students were on a course coordinated by Programme Director Diarmuid Fogarty and colleagues.

With the Refugee Week 2021 theme, “We Cannot Walk Alone,” in mind, the INTO Giving team hope to impress on people how important refugee’s access to education is in the context of their lives as well as the positive ripple effect their education has when it comes to building stronger, more stable communities across the globe.

“Education gives people choices and allows them to invest in themselves and their communities,” Hewett emphasized.  “INTO Giving will be highlighting how it can help provide [refugees] a more stable and fulfilling future.”

To that end, INTO Giving are running a communication campaign from 14 – 18 June, which will conclude with a speaker event featuring Eloise Armstrong, fundraising manager for Children on the Edge (COTE).  Since last year, INTO Giving has contributed to the organisation’s efforts to provide hundreds of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon with quality education.  Armstrong will speak to INTO colleagues on 17 June about how education fosters stability in refugee children’s lives, and how INTO Giving has helped COTE ensure the safe, uninterrupted delivery of that education over the course of this pandemic.

“Learning not only provides mental stimulation, the classroom also provides a sense of normality, structure and routine that refugees have often been stripped of,” Hewett said.

In addition, INTO Giving is running an online shop during Refugee Week through which you can give children access to critical services and supplies, including safe transport to school and textbooks.  Please consider donating.



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