E179 - Refugee Crisis and Galvanising a Group Effort with Amber Bauer
Updated: Feb 7
“…with every single asylum seeker across Europe, whether they’re 12 years old or whether they’re 50 years old, they’re someone’s son or daughter, they’re someone’s brother or sister, and for whatever reason they can’t live in their home country and the least [they deserve] is have a helping hand to find a new life in another country, because it’s hard enough being away from your family.” - Amber Bauer
In this episode I speak with Amber Bauer, CEO and Founder of forRefugees about the ongoing refugee crisis, and what moved her to support it. We also talk about what it’s like to welcome refugees into your home, and how the pandemic has made an impact on the efforts that she and her colleagues are making to support frontline organisations supporting refugees.
1. Commitment to the cause
What is that moves some to do what many of us would never consider doing to help others? Can we be inspired by an article, video, photo or story to dedicate our lives in such a way or is this reserved for a small minority of people who have this courage?
For many of us working in the charity sector, a part of our challenge is distiling this passion and commitment, and move to action down into compelling information that we can communciate to bring others to our causes.
2. Entreprenuerialism in the charity sector
This conversation with Amber made me think more about the entrpreunerialism that we have in the sector.
Setting up forRefugees just seven years ago, she and her colleagues are supporting 50 organisation partners across 7 countries at the moment. Supporting such a range of partners, all working in difficult circumstances, is no easy task and yet Amber and her colleagues are continuing to provide this support.
3. The pandemic’s impact on volunteering abroad
Amber talked about her organisation as providing emergency and one-off grants to give breathing space for charities responding to events on the ground, or seeking to grow their services.
One of the challenges for Amber and her project partners is that the pandemic has reduced the levels of international volunteers who support so many of these grass roots refugee initiaitives.
International volunteers, as well as providing much needed resource on the ground also provide vital funding, and this can serve as a reminder to us all, I think, that volunteers are our most dedicated of supporters and we should do all we can to hold on to them. The pandemic may have reduced the numbers going to help refugees, as it has with volunteers working in charity shops, and a whole host of other volunteer roles, but I hope that this will change and that the experience of seeing the work and feeling useful in getting stuck in will bring them back to it when Covid restrictions allow.
4. Open-minded funding
Amber talked about forRefugees work as a funder, and it was good to hear that they are able to do this to fit in with their organisational partners. Amber said they will work with these organisations in whatever capacity they can to support them.
As a funder and collaborative organisation supporting projects in other countries, getting out and seeing what’s happening on the ground, and getting stuck in to organising the warehouse and driving the food deliveries is refreshing to hear. We’ve spoken a lot on the podcast over the past two years about the direction of travel for some funders to a more open and flexible way of funding, and I hope that this grows to give already challenged charities the ability to more easily apply funding where it is most needed.
5. Moving people to give
Amber made me think about how we can move people to support our causes, and the challenge that indifference plays in how some people looked at the refugee crisis. We spoke about the cognitive disonance that many of us might experience when we see a moving request to support a cause but quickly move onto something else.
Taking photos and video of people in dire straits is often not appropriate and has to be handled sensitively. The respect for the privacy of refugees has increased, and a lot of volunteers don’t want to tell the stories they hear for that same reason, and yet without compelling images to help tell the stories of beneficiaries, the struggle to raise funds is all the more difficult.
Governments of Europe could be seen as being in competition with each other for who can be the most cruel and most hostile to refugees. Is this a reflection of a growing populism across Europe? I don’t know, and this isn’t a political podcast, but it did make me wonder about the sector’s role in influencing our community and through them shaping the narrative and even direction of government policy in the future.
We talked about how the press reporting of the refugee crisis has lost much of its original enthusiasm, especially since the pandemic and Brexit. It seems that we hear less and less from the media about the ongoing refugee crisis, and it seems like another job for our already challenged sector to raise the profile of this human catastrophe.
6. Find out more about forRefugees
Find our more about Amber's work by visiting - https://www.forrefugees.org/
This episode of Charity Chat has been brought to you by our platinum sponsor Work for Good, a fundraising platform which helps charities streamline and unlock small business sales fundraising, via a supporter-friendly digital Commercial Participation solution. So that small but mighty businesses can fundraise for causes they love and charities can maximise this awesome sustainable source of income. Head to www.workforgood.co.uk to sign-up for free!
We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.
Related episodes that you may be interested in:
E158 - Entrepreneurialism in the Charity Sector With Bill Woolsey -
E149 - Supporting Humanity with Idris Patel -
E76: Jordan Deployment with Usman Mughal, Abdul Hamid and Naveed Akhtar -