For the last few weeks I’ve been listening to the news with mounting despair and been afraid to really speak out about the refugee crisis. I mean REALLY speak out, here, on my own blog. We employ a lot of migrant workers on our farm and I get into quite a few difficult discussions about it from people who really have no idea what they’re talking about.
The thing is, those of us born on western soil are, on the whole, extremely lucky. It’s an accident of birth. We didn’t do anything special to deserve that luck. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t cleverly select being born in the UK, this stable, wealthy, well educated country with a free health service but I’m really quite glad I was. I suspect, if I’d been born in, say, Syria, I’d be quite keen to get my family out to a better life. If I was born in extreme poverty and knew that by travelling to a different country, and working hard, I could improve the lot of my family ten-fold , I’d probably do that too. But I wasn’t, so I don’t have to.
I got lucky.
I got a place in the safe boat, the one with food and warmth and hardly anyone trying to kill me for some stupid reason that makes no sense. I was born in the boat with a stable keel. Now, I know there are plenty of people who’ll think You’re an idiot, this boat is full up, we can’t take any more, we’ll sink. Well, no. We won’t. In fact, to Europe’s shame, there are more than 11 million empty homes dotted around the place. More than 600,000 of those in the UK. We have a housing crisis yes, but it’s all of our own, greedy making. There are political ways to fix it, if we have the will. So sorry, that doesn’t wash. Besides, if we’re really that full up, I can think of a few people I’d happily ditch over the sides to make some room.
Refugees are clinging to the side of our boat, if we don’t help, we may as well be stamping on their cold, wet fingers. I’d rather reach down and help them aboard.
So I’m doing the little I can to help. If you want to do the same, here are a few ideas:
Support Save the Children, Patrick Ness and some of his literary pals have promised match funding to donations and have already raised in excess of £200,000 in 24 hours.
Write to your MP and ask him or her to act positively.
Donate directly to Refugee Action
There are many more ways – follow @refugees and @refugeeaction on twitter for more ideas.
Please don’t turn away. Hold out your hand.