Our mission is to channel UK support for the boat refugees travelling to Europe, supplying essential aid to the Greek islands for distribution by the established volunteer humanitarian organisations which have been caring for the refugees since the start of the crisis.
In September 2015 I spent time working with Kos Solidarity, a local voluntary organisation set up to provide humanitarian support to the refugees arriving from Turkey. The summer was ending, the first rain storms dramatically arriving and it was clear that if the refugees continued to take the often perilous journey from Bodrum, with the onset of winter their journey would only get more treacherous. Not only have people continued to make this journey, the numbers have significantly increased putting huge pressure on the resources of the various volunteer organisations working hard to support and prepare the refugees for their long and arduous winter journey through Europe. Many of the refugees arrive with nothing more than what they are standing up in, which in September was often just a pair of trousers, a shirt, jacket and shoes if they were lucky, everything usually soaking wet. Often they have no money having extended themselves to pay traffickers to facilitate the crossing, and often they are forced to leave their belongings behind in Turkey so the traffickers can cram their inadequate boats with paying ‘cargo’. Kos is their first taste of Europe.
There are many volunteers working on the island, most of the local volunteers have full time employment or businesses to sustain but still devote many hours every day to the refugees, the overseas volunteers have compromised their lives at home and work all hours with little respite, they are all inspirational.
There is obviously a large groundswell of goodwill within the UK for the people making this journey, but whilst on Kos I realised that this had not been translated into direct support to the refugees arriving on the island. There were individuals helping on the ground but nothing organised to channel that goodwill back in the UK. Approximately 82% of the boat refugees who arrived in Europe so far in 2015 have passed through the Greek islands, this makes them an ideal place to help prepare the refugees for the journey. To survive a South European winter on the road they will need good shoes, warm clothes and waterproofs, sleeping bags and tents as a minimum. It is the goal of UK Support for Boat Refugees to channel the goodwill to that end.
The politics of this historic migration to Europe are complex to the extreme, that is why the leaders of the EU nations have so far been unable to formulate a regional plan and individual governments try to find their own solutions. The questions of differentiating between economic migrants and ‘bona fide’ refugees, of housing and employing them, are political and strategic minefields that must not undermine the safety of the refugees in the short term. UKSFBR is a purely humanitarian Appeal, we do not allow ourselves to be influenced by the politics. This is about caring for human beings who have put their faith in Europe, who are in desperate need and who will starve, freeze or die from sickness this winter without such support.
Our initial goal is to fill a number of large vans with the essentials requested by Kos Solidarity and other voluntary organisations, items such as shoes, waterproofs, fleeces, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents and basic first aid materials, and to transport these to Kos and Lesbos for distribution by the existing voluntary organisations already there. It is ridiculously ambitious, but our target must be that no refugee leaves the islands without the bare essentials for the journey.
Please give generously, demonstrating the solidarity of the UK public with the refugees, every £1 donated will be used for the intended purpose, we are a completely voluntary organisation.Jonathan Turner.
Government legal service lawyer and part-time county court judge.
Senior project manager. Managed setup of BA low cost airline GO and Phase 1 of London 2012 Olympic Bid.
Water Engineer with work experience around the world.
We are a charitable organisation in the process of applying for registered charitable status – Nov 2015. (See FAQ's)