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Internationally acclaimed British author Neil Gaiman has been supporting UNHCR since 2013 and was announced as a global Goodwill Ambassador in February 2017.
Neil has played a central role in supporting UNHCR’s fundraising, advocacy, and awareness-raising efforts. He has continuously utilized his writing talents to highlight the refugee issue, generate empathy, and mobilize support.
What You Need to Be Warm
2023 saw the global publication of a beautifully illustrated poem written by Neil: What You Need to Be Warm. Sales of every copy of the book – including all author proceeds – help support the work of UNHCR.
In 2019, Neil asked his Twitter followers: What reminds you of warmth? Thousands of responses later, Neil began to weave replies from across the world into the poem that was knitted into a giant solidarity scarf to raise awareness and funds for UNHCR’s Winter Appeal. Subsequently it was made into an award-winning animated film and finally published in hardback featuring stunning original artwork by 13 illustrators.
The poem is about our right to feel safe, whoever we are and wherever we are from. It is about holding out a hand to welcome those who find themselves far from home.
What You Need to Be Warm – animated film
Advocacy and campaign support
Neil has been involved in extensive UNHCR campaigns including #WithRefugees, the iBelong campaign to end statelessness, and World Refugee Day for which, in 2019, he helped launch the first ever Refugee Week in Athens.
As a British national, Neil has also been involved in UNHCR efforts closer to home. In August 2021 he contributed to UK for UNHCR’s Refugee Dictionary. In 2018, he supported UNHCR’s Families Together campaign and signed an open letter calling for MPs to attend the Refugees Family Reunion Bill and advocate for its implementation to allow child refugees a route to reunite with their parents.
In amongst the horror and the nightmares, there are many small and glorious stories of survival and hope, resilience and dignity. If you could have the conversations that we had, if only you could sit and speak to refugees, face to face, you would see that we really are the same, that we really are part of one family. And, at its best, a family does all it can to support each other.
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In 2016, Neil joined fellow UNHCR supporters in filming a performance of Jenifer Toksvig’s poem What They Took With Them, inspired by first hand testimonies of refugees. Neil has appeared in several other UNHCR advocacy films, including ‘Words Matter’, ‘We Stand With #WithRefugees’, and Everyone Counts.
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Field visit to Jordan
In 2014, Neil travelled to Jordan with UNHCR to build support, empathy and understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis.
He remains a fierce advocate for refugees and continues to speak and write about his experience in Jordan and sharing stories about the refugee links in his own family.
Neil's work as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
News and highlights
Find the latest news and key highlights about Neil's work as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
What does a solidarity scarf look like?— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) December 11, 2019
Like this epic (and pretty stylish) piece of art. Our words of warmth knitted into it. I’ve loved working on this project with you all and raising funds for @refugees.
Please keep donating https://t.co/gu2Q7GS0Sh pic.twitter.com/dVnS2KVMzX
How has art been healing for Neil Gaiman?— UNHCR Greece (@UNHCRGreece) June 28, 2022
What is the power of storytelling?
The City of Athens invited acclaimed writer & UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador @neilhimself to a digital interview for the launch of the first-ever #RefugeeWeekGreece.
Watch it here: https://t.co/iwguBlhtTE pic.twitter.com/AZtTfJtmbG