Fundraiser Spotlight: How our supporters have been stepping up for refugees

From virtual Yoga classes, to marathons, cycles and lockdown art projects, a record number of people got in touch to tell us how they wanted to help raise money for and awareness of refugees this year.

Today we’re spotlighting some of their stories. Find out more about what inspired them to fundraise, what they found most rewarding and any handy tips for anyone who wants to challenge themselves and get involved.

RISHI

“I feel the refugees don't get much attention. I looked through the website of UNHCR and learnt how life is so hard for so many refugees.”

Rishi is just 12 years old, but took on a challenge many adults would baulk at – cycling an amazing 45 miles with his dad in aid of vulnerable refugees.

What inspired me to fundraise for UNHCR?

I am Rishi and I am 12 years old. I live on a farm in Dorset. I really wanted to raise money for a charity. I first got to know about UNHCR through the FirstNews newspaper. I feel refugees don't get much attention. I looked through UNHCR's website and learnt how life is so hard for so many refugees.

What have I done to raise funds and awareness for UNHCR?

I decided to raise money for UNHCR by taking on a challenge and going on a non-stop cycle ride for 45 miles. So, in June 2020 I left home, accompanied by my dad, on a cycle route which took us 5 hours to complete. I was a bit tired by the end but not too bad. I was always in front of my dad 🙂 We went over many hills and country roads as well as busy main roads.

What was the best part of fundraising?

I am so grateful to all the people who helped me raise money for refugees. I heard from UNHCR that the money I have raised could help to provide essential medicine to 45 refugees.

ANDREW & JASMINE

“The refugee crisis is one of the most pressing issues worldwide.”

Father and daughter Andrew and Jasmine teamed up to run the incredible distance of 10 marathons in 10 weeks, in support of displaced families around the world.

What inspired me to fundraise for UNHCR?

We chose UNHCR as our charity of choice as we feel that the refugee crisis in the Middle East is one of the most pressing issues worldwide at the moment. It is on such an immense scale that it not only needs financial support but also needs to be kept in the public eye.

What challenges did I face and how did I overcome this?

Deciding to run ten marathons in ten weeks seemed relatively straightforward at the beginning, but it has certainly been tougher than expected, for me especially rather than Jasmine. I haven't really run at all for about twenty years and one of the main challenges I faced was the aches and sore muscles in the morning after running every day. If you divide the mileage over each day it works out to be a manageable 6km a day (every day!), but if you miss a day then you have to make up for the lost distance and the runs have to be longer. The key is to seriously stretch each evening!

What was the best part of fundraising?

I think the best part of the fundraising is twofold. Firstly, the fact that we have almost tripled our initial target is a great feeling and I'd like to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported us. Secondly, it's actually having a positive focus during what is a very worrying time everywhere and a realisation that there is always a greater cause that should be fought for, no matter how bad things may seem in your own country. At least I know that I have a comfortable house to come home to after each run in the evening....

Do I have any handy hints or advice for anyone who is new to fundraising?

If I were to offer any advice to someone who was thinking about fundraising it would be just 'do it'! Come up with a challenge that is neither ridiculously easy nor stupidly impossible and just go with it. It has been quite tough to keep going but it is nothing compared to the struggle of the people that we are raising money for.

ARYAN

“I wanted to help the people who thought they were forgotten and those who had lost hope. I wanted to show them that I still cared and that hundreds of other people did too!”

16 year old Aryan has been advocating for refugees and displaced people since the age of 12! In 2018 he launched Forced to Flee a non-for-profit organisation to raise awareness of refugees plight.

What have I done to raise funds and awareness for UNHCR?

In 2018, I set up Forced To Flee, a Non-Profit Organisation with the aim of bringing attention to refugee issues. I decided the best way to help refugees is by donating and I have always admired UNHCR’s amazing work so I wanted to do my part to contribute. I set up a JustGiving page for site visitors and social media followers to donate directly to UNHCR on behalf of Forced To Flee.

What inspired me to fundraise for UNHCR?

I wanted to help the people who thought they were forgotten and those who had lost hope. I wanted to show them that I still cared and that hundreds of other people did too!

What challenges did I face and how did I overcome this?

It was quite slow to start as I set up the page when I first launched Forced To Flee, however I regularly posted on Instagram & Facebook and put donate buttons on every single page on Forced To Flee so visitors could not miss it! I shared links amongst friends and other organisations to encourage more people to participate and it worked. The best way to overcome the challenge is to keep pushing and think of new creative ways you can increase donations, to help more people.

What was the best part of fundraising?

The best part of fundraising was seeing people’s generous donations roll in. We knew that it was going to a good cause and that our work alongside the money we raised can make a difference to someone’s life. It is a very humbling experience.

Do I have any handy hints or advice for anyone who is new to fundraising?

One of my top tips is to JUST START! The best thing about fundraising for a cause you believe in is that you can never do it wrong. The motto I used, and still use to this day, is that even the smallest contributions can make all the difference. The earlier you start and the more you have a desire to make a difference, the better the results will be! And keep doing it, don’t give up when you reach your goal, continue to post and share so more people can donate!

RAYMOND

“They are human beings who are crying out for our urgent help and assistance in any way that we can help them.”

English teacher Raymond Van Neste took on an incredible physical challenge – performing 100 one-arm press-ups in three minutes to raise money for refugees.

What have I done to raise funds and awareness for UNHCR?

In June 2020, I fulfilled a challenge to do 100 one arm press ups within three minutes. This was my mission as a way of raising awareness of the terrible plight of refugees around the world.

What inspired me to fundraise for the UNHCR?

As an English teacher I have a teaching blog which looks at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and I relate these goals to each English lesson as a theme for the lessons. In addition to this, I’ve followed my gut feeling to want to help refugees around the world and I'm currently studying to be able to work with refugees in education. It seems to me that refugees, especially refugee families and children, are the most vulnerable people on the planet and are a like a symbol to the world to change its ways and start to recognise that refugees are genuine and deserve to be helped. This is my inspiration for fundraising and raising awareness.

What challenges did I face and how did I overcome this?

The greatest basic challenge was to learn ‘how’ to fund raise in an effective way. I started at the beginning while learning along the way.  Each day it takes time as well as dedication. The energy emerges and it becomes possible to do what earlier might have seemed impossible.

What was the best part of fundraising?

I think this is the feeling of achievement. It’s the feeling that what you’re doing, no matter how small or large, it has an ultimate purpose and meaning and will ultimately help refugees. Also, the learning process was important for me. The learning process about every aspect of fundraising as well as finding out more and more about refugees was inspiring and important. Again, through my fundraising, I met and got to know some amazing people which was great!

Do I have any handy hints or advice for anyone who is new to fundraising?

My main tip to help people who are new to fundraising is to not doubt your own instinct, gut feeling and capacity to want to help people in desperate need. By following your gut feeling you will find all of your energy and inspiration right there to help you to fundraise and attract people to your cause.