VO5 NME Awards 2017: Who are Help Refugees and what do they do?

The charity has teamed up with some of indie's finest on the Bands4Refugees supergroup

Help Refugees are the perfect example of what you can do if you get stuck in and try and make something work. The charity has been doing important work for nearly two years and continues to tirelessly campaign for and assist the many refugees across Europe right now. They’ve also teamed up with some of music’s finest stars on the Bands4Refugees supergroup. A collective including Charli XCX, Pixie Geldof, Olly Alexander from Years & Years, Izzy Phillips from Black Honey, Swim Deep’s Austin Williams and Peace will join together at the VO5 NME Awards 2017 to perform covers and raise funds and awareness for the organisation and refugee crisis. Learn a bit more about Help Refugees below.

Who are Help Refugees?

Help Refugees weren’t set up by people with lots of experience in the charity sector. Originally, they were just a group of friends who wanted to help out those caught up in the refugee crisis. Since the organisation was founded in 2015, it’s grown massively and has undoubtedly helped many people less fortunate than ourselves. They’re now the largest distributors of aid across Europe.

What are they doing to help?

So far, they’ve built 1500 shelters in Calais, given out 300 bags a week and taken 20,000 wind up or solar lamps to France and Greece. They also fund 150,000 hot meals a week in France and Greece and have sent 40 Arctic lorries full of aid across Europe.

 

The organisation’s aims are simple – to provide basic essentials to those in the camps, from food and water, to shelter and warmth. They’re also looking to empower those in need through job training and education programmes, and via sustainable housing projects. They also focus on helping the most vulnerable people in the camps, providing safe spaces for women, sexual health clinics, medical facilities and nurseries, schools and youth centres.

 

Outside of the camps, they’ve also funded search and rescue missions, helping families travelling over to Greece and Turkey by boat to find each other when they reach land and funding an entire life boat operation.

Why are they important?

There are currently 65.3 million people seeking refuge and asylum, or have been displaced from their homes. As Help Refugees point out, the refugee crisis is at a level that hasn’t been seen since the Second World War. Without organisations like theirs, those people in need won’t get the help they need – be that housing, water, food or other basic things we take for granted. Plus, we need more groups like this helping out given the government’s recent decision to go back on their vow to let child refugees into the UK.

How can you get involved?

There are many different ways you can help the organisation and refugees in need. Volunteers are needed at refugee camps in Greece and Calais – if your day-to-day life allows, you could spend a few months getting stuck into helping  those in the camps face-to-face. Of course, not everyone will able to do that, but there are still plenty of ways to get involved. You can donate direct to the charity or hold a fundraiser to raise both money and awareness. Maybe you and your friends could follow Bands4Refugees’ lead and host a charity gig?

Help Refugees also take goods across to Europe to keep refugees warm and sheltered. At the moment, they’re looking for these specific items: tents, sleeping bags, thick blankets, new men’s underwear, men’s waterproof jackets (sizes S and M), men’s hats, men’s gloves, men’s socks and trainers. They’re also looking for tinned or dried food to send over. For more details on how to get any of these items or how to donate, visit Help Refugees’ website.

We’ve teamed up with Help Refugees to create a special tee to commemorate Bands 4 Refugees’ performance at the VO5 NME Awards 2017. £3 from all purchases made in our Winner’s Collection – which includes our charity tee- in the NME Merch Store will go straight to the Help Refugees charity.

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The VO5 NME Awards 2017 takes place at London’s O2 Academy Brixton on February 15. You can be at the ceremony to see performances from the Bands4Refugees supergroup, Pet Shop Boys, Wiley, Bastille and Dua Lipa, and rub shoulders with your favourite artists. The last remaining tickets are available from here now.