Since its inception in late 2015, Homes for Syrians has matched 70 Syrian refugees with hosts offering spare rooms across the United Kingdom. The charity eases these vulnerable people into British society by removing the burden of accommodation, ultimately helping them start the long path of rebuilding their lives.
The process has proven to be a powerful aid to integration and many of our guests have found English language courses, jobs and even their own longer-term accommodation after settling into these temporary homes away from home.
The charity's work relies on the commitment of 340-plus volunteers and on the goodwill of some 480 hosts all over the country who have opened up or are willing to open up their homes to refugees. But Homes for Syrians requires donations from the general public to continue its incredibly impactful work.
That's why I set up this GoFundMe campaign. We're hoping to raise as much as we can to make essential improvements to our database in order to speed up the matchmaking process, and to add a full-time case officer to the charity.
The response to the campaign has been heartwarming: We've so far generated £1,900 from 33 donors, exceeding our initial goal of £1,500. But I'm certain this crowdfunding campaign can gain even more momentum, with your help.
It's difficult to overcome that stubborn sense of helplessness when confronted with the staggering realities of this war, particularly in the age of Brexit and Donald Trump. How can we conceivably make a lasting difference knowing that almost half a million people have died since the conflict erupted in early 2011, and that roughly five million have had to flee their homeland, oftentimes perishing along the way? What can we possibly do?
Crowdfunding can't end wars. But donating to one of the many charities that support Syrian refugees, including Homes for Syrians, is a form of action that a lot of us have the privilege to take. Whether it's £5 or £50 or more, every single penny goes a long way.
This humble fundraising experience has taught me that there's really no need to feel paralyzed or helpless when thinking about Syria. Take that energy and put it to good use: Share. Like. Write. Attend. Protest. Vote. Donate. Crowdfund.
Some crowdfunding campaigns for Syrians have indeed been impactful. The Syria Airlift Project raised $39,000 to airlift food and medical supplies to conflict zones via drones, while another campaign generated more than $175,000 to buy baby carriages for refugee mothers arriving in Greece. Efforts such as these underscore that collective acts of selflessness and kindness are never in vain.
The Syrian refugee crisis isn't going away anytime soon. And the UK hasn't done nearly enough to address it. According to Oxfam, we've resettled just 4,414 Syrian refugees. The charity said in a December report that the country has taken in 18% of its "fair share" of Syrian refugees based on its economic standing. That compares to 117% for Germany and 144% for Norway.
As part of its Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme, the UK has indeed pledged to resettle up to 20,000 Syrians by 2020. By comparison, though, Lebanon, which shares a border with Syria, is hosting over a million. That's more than roughly a quarter of its entire population prior to the influx. Meanwhile, Theresa May has resisted calls to accept more Syrian refugees, saying it's better to help refugees in their own region rather than bring them over here, and opting to dish out aid instead.
This government inaction should incense everyone. But those of us who have been following the Syria crisis for the past six years know all too well that it takes a shocking image or news development to stir most to action. The reality is that there is no shortage of shocking images, and there is no shortage of shocking news developments.
This is the biggest humanitarian crisis of our generation. It is incumbent upon us all to take action. Start today, with a click.