During the recent Refugee Week, we celebrated all that refugees bring to our society. Despite the extra challenges Covid-19 posed, the organisers still embraced this time as a way to bring about positive connections between communities and promote a culture of welcome. I loved this year’s theme – Imagine – ‘because when things feel stuck; when the old ways of doing things are no longer working, that’s what we need to do.’
I’ve been volunteering as a mentor for the charity, Breadwinners, along with my colleague Becky, since last year. Breadwinners provides jobs, work experience, training and mentoring for refugees and young people seeking asylum, across London farmers market stalls. Often this will be people’s first experience of working in the UK and it offers a supportive and safe environment for them to build their confidence and skills. We also get to sample amazing artisanal bread and who doesn’t love that?! The closure of food markets across the capital could have been hugely detrimental to the charity’s work, but they rallied and over the last few months have turned to an online delivery model. This has opened up new roles with the charity to work as online sales reps, offering the opportunity to build a whole raft of different skills and experience.
On 21st June, the Breadwinners family came together for a virtual fun run, supporting Refugee Week and its #SimpleActs campaign. We all met online for a warm up, before setting off on a 30 minute run around our local parks. The whole way round one of our Breadwinners was acting as DJ and sharing motivational messages. Despite being miles apart (some joined from Spain and even Argentina and Australia!), it was a real moment of connection – and we managed to raise over £2,000 to invest in the market stalls as they start to reopen.
With all the uncertainty at the moment, it’s wonderful that Breadwinners has continued to provide steady and consistent support, managing to turn challenge into opportunity. Its unwavering commitment to those it supports and the way it shows the many wonderful contributions that refugees make to the UK, is really inspiring and something we can all learn from.
You can find out more about Breadwinners here: https://www.breadwinners.org.uk/