Schools are the birthplaces of change-makers.
Here are 4 ways your school can help change lives for the better.
1. Become a School of Sanctuary
What it means: A School of Sanctuary is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those who have had to leave their countries to find safety.
Why you should do it: The more schools we have gifting children of displaced families a safe space, the more our leaders will know there is ample room to welcome them.
What you need to do:
1. CONTACT your nearest Sanctuary lead to learn of the requirements for becoming a recognised Sanctuary.
2. PLEDGE to offer spaces to refugee children.
3. PLAN for potential arrivals and how to meet their special needs. For direct and expert aid in how to teach and care for non-English speaking students, see English for Action and the English Speaking Union.
4. SHARE the fact that you are a Sanctuary! Write to your local council, Mayor, MP and press about why your school is proud to be a part of a wider movement to help displaced families. And let your your neighbouring schools and us know too!
2. Open up young minds
What it means: Teaching children about the hope, bravery, resilience and tragedy that lies behind people forced to flee their homes. And maybe even helping them mobilise too!
Why you should do it: Children are aware of words, news stories and world events, and most are hungry to do something to help.
What you can do:
1. STOCK your libraries and classrooms with books that give a true insight into what a refugee child may have experienced. See the CLPE’s brilliant Refugee Experience Booklist for inspiration.
2. PERMIT your students a safe space in which to ask questions about what they are reading / seeing / hearing about in relation to the refugee ‘crisis’. Whether that be a teacher, librarian or your very own Wonder-Bank (see point 3 below)!
3. DESIGNATE an ORAT Wonder-Bank! This is the name we give to a very special teacher, nominated to answer questions about the situation of refugees and what can be done to help them through O’s Refugee Aid Team (ORAT). (And if you let us know you’ve designated one, we’ll send them a very special badge!)
4. HELP MOBILISE your students and help them understand the power behind their actions. They can write letters to their MPs, the Home Office, or even the Queen herself about how they feel in relation to the refugee crisis; hold a fundraiser for a local refugee aid group; collect goods or even come up with possible solutions.
3. Unite Local Actions
What we mean: Join up with your local refugee aid groups, and become a space where joint actions, meetings and collections can be undertaken.
Why you should do it: Because there are lots of smaller organisations working independently to try and aid refugees. But just think what could happen if they all joined forces – and the time, money and energy it could save!
What you can do:
1. OFFER your space. One of the biggest problems small aid groups have, is finding a safe space to meet others and store goods in. An unused part of your school, or an evening meeting space could help work wonders.
2. TAKE IN donations on behalf of local charities – and ask your students to help manage and track stock. Any assistance with admin and storage space for local groups could help them go bigger, and do more.
3. CALL ON local organisations to come and join forces. Set up a learning meeting to help different parties understand what the other is doing, and spot any unnecessary duplication of works. Who knows where that kind of learning might lead!
4. Become a Friend of ORAT & Maison Sesame
What it means: Raising awareness, funds, goods and whatever else you can muster, to help our supported projects, including Maison Sesame.
Why you should do it: Because by being a recognised Friend of ours, you’ll let others know you’re doing all you can to help mobilise our coming generations, so that they may in turn can help us help those in need.
What you need to do:
1. CONTACT US to let us know you would like to be our Friend – nothing gives us greater pleasure than knowing a whole school is backing our works. And we will always try and help where we can.
2. ESTABLISH your own goals. Decide on what you have the capacity to offer. It might be pledging to celebrate Refugee Week with more events; ordering more refugee experience-led books for the library; organising a funny fundraising event, or highlighting our latest campaign. The world is your oyster.
3. KEEP US INFORMED of your progress so that we can highlight and share with our networks, as well as our front-line aid teams.