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Welcome a refugee for Christmas!

Many local people have offered to welcome a refugee or refugee family into their home until they are able to return to their own country, or are housed here. Sadly the government has not allowed this.

So here is the nearest we can get for now...

Charlbury Refugee Action Group invites you to consider making a space at your Christmas festivity for a refugee by leaving an empty chair in which they would be welcome.

Here's how it works:

People who take part leave an empty chair at their Christmas table. If it represents one refugee or asylum seeker, we ask for a minimum contribution of £10 (OK, less if necessary, but we have to have a target!). If your chair represents a family, we ask for a minimum £30 donation. If your Christmas visitors want to contribute too, even better! You could suggest they might like to buy your refugee a drink …

Additionally, you could tell those friends and family whom you won't see at Christmas that you are taking part, and invite them to do the same at their table.

Perhaps email them a nice photo of yourselves, and tell them you are donating £2 to refugee aid instead of buying a card and a stamp?

Exactly how we divide the money will be decided when we know how much we have collected. It is likely to be shared between several groups of volunteers, including some or all of the following:

• The Pikpa camp on Lesvos (which looks after particularly emotionally and physically vulnerable refugees who wash up on the island, as well as delivering hot meals to the other camps there);

• One or more of the volunteer groups on Chios and Leros, two islands often sadly overlooked, yet overwhelmed with boatloads of refugees (those that survive the crossing, anyway);

• The Worldwide Tribe (who are installing wifi throughout The Jungle in Calais, and will do Pikpa next, giving refugees free contact with family back home or still travelling);

• Positive Action in Housing (a charity who fund medical and other work on Lesvos and elsewhere, as well as working with refugees in the UK); and

• Raz Hussain, who runs a crowdfunding site to respond to urgent needs across Europe, from Dunkirk and Germany to the Greek islands.

We will let you know how much we raise, and what you have supported, in the new year. We follow these organisations closely to ensure that your money is spent directly on aid to refugees.

So here's how to make a space at your table …

As soon as you have decided on an amount, email us to say how much you are pledging.

Involve friends and family. If necessary, you can tell us at a later date what additional funds this will raise.

Settle up when you know much you have raised. You can either write a cheque (payable to Charlbury Refugee Action Group) and deliver or post it to either 19 The Green, Charlbury OX7 3QA, or 6 Tanners Court, Charlbury OX7 3RP; or deliver cash to either address.

(Please note that we are in the process of opening a bank account, and your cheque may not clear until January.)

Finally, please follow our website and Facebook page, both at and stay up to date both with what we are doing, and how you can best help people in desperate need. You will also learn how the refugee crisis is evolving across Europe and beyond, with pictures and reports from the frontline.

If you have questions, please email or phone 01608 811378.

We shall post progress reports on the forum, as well as on our own site.

Jon Carpenter · Thu 10 Dec 2015, 14:57 · Link

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