These beautiful plates were painted by refugee children at a family group our volunteers help with at a London hotel. Their designs are simple, but to the mums receiving them, they’re treasures, with deeper meanings than we can guess at.
One of the ladies, for example, had relatives caught in the earthquake in Syria; her daughter’s message was also for them, and together they sent photographs of their plate to everyone at home as a way of showing they were thinking of them.
When you’re a refugee family in a hotel room in a strange new country, you don’t have many things of your own around you. So for mums to have an object their children made can mean everything.
It also means they know someone cared enough to help.
“The children paint the plates and I bake them in an oven to dry them,” Jo, who runs the group told us. “When they see this finished thing they’ve made, they love it. It’s something they’ve made that they can see and touch. That means quite a lot when the world treats you as invisible.”
Jo is an amazing woman who runs the parent-and-toddler organisation @danielsdenuk. “A while ago I noticed in one of our groups there was an asylum seeker lady sitting with her baby in a corner, very withdrawn. I found out later she was a victim of domestic violence.
“One of our volunteers had a conversation with her to welcome her, and I realised that we could be building bridges by taking our welcome out to refugees. Through Sue, a volunteer with Care4Calais, we set up the group at the hotel.
“Lots of families come – it’s just been incredible. We had a big Daniel’s Den picnic in a park last summer, and people from the hotel group came along. To see 25 asylum seeking-people coming over a hill to join us and share a picnic was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had.”
Groups like this are so important for refugee families, especially those living in hotels where a lack of communal spaces means they’re cooped up in their rooms all day. Our volunteers make a big difference in helping to organise them – could you help too? Click here to find more information on volunteering with us: care4calais.org/get-involved/supporting-refugees-in-the-uk/