23 Jun 2016

From a hashtag to an international charity


World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, draws attention to the strength and courage of millions of refugees around the world. This year, World Refugee Day is even more poignant as most of Europe is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis as thousands of refugees arrive on our shores each day.

Turning an idea into something big

When Radio X presenter Lliana Bird, writer,TV presenter Dawn O’Porter and friend Josie Naughton started an appeal on Twitter, little did they know it would mark the start of one of the biggest charities to assist refugees in Europe.

It all started from the hashtag #helpcalais, created to raise funds and collect goods in response to the current refugee crisis. Nine months on, and the crowdfunded initiative has now grown into Help Refugees, a registered charity (under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund) that delivers ongoing aid to refugees across Europe. The public response has been overwhelming and the charity is now one of the biggest aid givers to refugees in Dunkirk, Calais and Greece.

One day out of 365

Days like World Refugee Day are useful for charities to get their message out. “It’s so crucial to have days like World Refugee Day to help draw attention to the current crisis. But it’s also important to remember that it’s just one day out of 365. We’re in the middle of an ongoing global crisis and this is a great opportunity for people to see all the good work Help Refugees and other charities are doing and get involved,” says Morgan Kainth, Manager at Prism the Gift Fund, the UK donor-advised fund assisting Help Refugees.

As the temperatures soar in Greece, it means refugees are facing a new battle: mosquitoes. With many forced to sleep outside in tents, there’s no escaping the pesky insects. All the money Help Refugees raises through BT MyDonate helps in many different ways: from buying mosquito repellent and nets, kitchens and meal packs to a whole pharmacy. In November, Help Refugees held a charity concert in London to help raise funds.

“People have been incredibly active in helping. Help Refugees are constantly looking for volunteers to help sort out clothes and cooking food. The fact that the charity has grown into a household name proves that there’s huge public support and it’s a testament to the passion and commitment of the founders and the whole team,” says Morgan.

Making the most out of donations

With BT MyDonate, there are no set up fees and we take 0% commission to make sure donations make a bigger difference. “Using BT MyDonate allows us to get as much money as possible directly to causes, rather than core costs. BT MyDonate have been very helpful in raising awareness and promoting our events. Help Refugees has an international project reach, and the MyDonate fundraising platform offers a flexibility to promote various aspects of what the charity is doing,” Morgan concludes.

To find out more on how you can help and get involved, visit:


Or if you are interested in volunteering please email: volunteerincalais@gmail.com

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