Responding to the refugee crisis
Around the world, millions of people have been displaced because of recent conflicts and thousands of them have made their way across the Mediterranean. There seem to be hundreds of opinions as to why it’s happening and how we can respond. It’s complicated enough as an adult – both in the global politics at play, and the emotions it evokes – but it can be particularly tricky to help children engage with the issue. Here are some simple ways you can help children think through and respond to the crisis.
Help children grasp what being a refugee might be like, and what essential things they would need if they had to leave home suddenly. Use Christian Aid’s ‘refugee crisis’ assembly materials as a starting point. It can be found at learn. christianaid.org.uk (suitable for both church groups and school settings).
Find out more
The Newsround pages on CBBC provide a great short video explaining what is happening in Syria, which can be shared in small groups. There are plenty of detailed opinions and timelines available if you want to get into the deeper complexities of migration for older children.
Show solidarity by letting refugees know that you support them
Your group can ‘welcome a refugee’ by leaving a message online with Refugee Action. This will be displayed for refugees to see when they use the charity’s advice services.
Most major international charities have funds set up to help refugees in Europe and beyond. Hold a bake sale or sponsored event, or encourage children to put a small part of their pocket money to one side. You could also get involved with Premier Youthwork’s #LoveCalais campaign (on the next page).
More than 2,000 people have died in the Mediterranean this year, trying to reach safety. Refugee Action is asking for a photograph of a flower to represent each person. Get your children to take photos and post them using #2000flowers.
The crisis can be overwhelming to pray about. Focusing on specifics is helpful: individuals receiving food and shelter; people’s safety while travelling; thinking about how it would feel to leave your home, and praying about those feelings. For older children, you can also pray about the causes of conflict, which are leading to mass migration: Tearfund, Christian Aid and Cafod all have excellent resources
Anne Phipps is a charity consultant, having previously worked for Christian Aid for ten years