The 2020 Gift Guide: Supporting Refugees

Christmas is round the corner, and with it comes my Christmas gift guide! This year, the theme is gifts supporting refugees. If you’re looking for some beautiful, ethical gifts to give this year, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you’re on a budget, or looking to go all out, there’s some wonderful ways to surprise loved ones and also support vulnerable people in this year’s guide.

Why I’m Dedicating My Gift Guide to Supporting Refugees

2020 has been a rough year. However, it has also shown us how humanity can come together in some amazing ways: from local community groups providing pandemic support, to the global Black Lives Matter movement, people have found ways to tackle injustices together.

This year taught me some deep lessons, and confronted my beliefs: I learned that people come before planet, that social justice is the foundation of environmentalism. I evolved my advocacy for sustainability into intersectional environmentalism – and it’s a subject I’m still actively learning about. I found value in education, much more than conscious consumption. And as a way to draw a line under this year, I wanted to dedicate my Christmas gift guide to bringing hope into the lives of others: refugees.

I have no personal connection to refugees, but their plight could very easily be that of my Iraqi relatives. Despite the ongoing civil unrest and affects of previous wars in Iraq, they were only forced to move around the country during the worst of times and when they did return home, they discovered bullet holes in their walls but not much worse. They are still able to live in their home country.

Sadly, people from neighbouring Syria have not been so lucky. At the end of 2019, there were 6.6 million Syrian refugees being hosted by 126 countries worldwide. To put that into perspective, London’s population is around 8.5 million. That’s like 3 in 4 people in London becoming refugees. And we’re not including worldwide refugees in this example – just Syria.

There’s not much that sets refugees apart from my family, or me, or you, for that matter. For most of the world’s refugees, it’s just a case of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The main reasons people end up looking for refuge outside of their home country are:

  1. Persecution based on religion, nationality, social group, race, or politics
  2. War and conflict
  3. Persecution based on gender or sexual orientation
  4. Hunger and famine
  5. Climate change

These hardships are difficult enough, yet the landscape for refugees has changed drastically this year. Imagine how it must be, to flee your home country, with a global pandemic sweeping around the world. With less healthcare available to all, let alone to you. With borders closing, thanks to the UK Government, the US Government, and similar governments around the world.

In June 2020, the United Nations reported that nearly 80 million people, or 1 percent of humanity, now qualify as refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced.

And half of the world’s refugees are children.

This guide felt especially relevant this year, when we’re debating how to safely see our families around Christmas, yet 1% of humanity may not be able to see their families for years, or ever again.

5 Free Things You Can Do Right Now To Support Refugees

Before I share my lists of gifts supporting refugees with you, I wanted to highlight a few actions you can do to support without spending anything:

1. Sign & Share Petitions

Take action with Amnesty International by signing petitions and sending emails to relevant policy makers. Your voice really does make a difference.

2. Donate Items

Donate unwanted (but good quality) items at a Care 4 Calais drop-off point to help refugees in France and Belgium. You could also sign up to be a drop-off point yourself!

3. Stop Voting Conservative

Stop voting Conservative. I don’t tend to get party political, but this party just doesn’t care about refugees – even child refugees. Recently, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination Bill was amended to ensure refugee children would continue to be reunited with relatives in the UK once we withdraw from EU. The protections for child refugees on the bill were opposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, as well as every single Conservative House of Lords Peer. Fortunately, they were defeated by a majority of 94 in a vote on the amendment. This may just be one occurrence, but it reflects a callous stance on how refugees are treated by the Conservative party as a whole.

4. Bookmark Micro Rainbow’s Wishlist

If you ever do shop on Amazon (it’s unethical, it’s awful, but sometimes it’s unavoidable), consider purchasing an item from Micro Rainbow‘s wishlist. By purchasing items on their wishlist, you will enable them to create safe homes where LGBTI asylum seekers can stay while going through the asylum process.

5. Attend Chapter II Global Music Concert

Finally, if you’d like to do something interactive, join Habibi Project x Chapter II’s Global Music Concert on 13th December. Tickets are donation based, with an indicated donation of £10, and 100% of the money will go to Refugee Youth, a charity supporting newly arrived asylum seekers in London. I’m wearing a beanie of theirs to show my support!

The 2020 Gift Guide: Gifts Supporting Refugees

Now, onto the gift guide! I’ve split out my guide based on price points, with all items supporting refugees in one way or another. You can find a brief summary about each organisation under items featured, and of course, go shopping for yourself on their platforms too!

Gifts Supporting Refugees Under £20

Gifts Supporting Refugees Under £20

MADE 51 Together For Beirut Keychain £19, Choose Love Baby Essentials £10, Karen Tinsley Silver Tent Pendant £18, Maria Callisto for Anqa Silk Scrunchies £9, Breadwinners Bread Subscription from £15, Nemi Tea £5, 1951 Coffee Mug $12, Love Welcomes Embroidery Hoop £15, Muhra Drop Earrings Not Bombs $15, CalaBelfast Pin Badge* £6

Adiff (UK): Adiff is a female-founded clothing brand working with resettled-refugee tailors from Afghanistan in their manufacturing facility in Athens, Greece. Their designs focus on upcycling traditional “waste” materials into create clothing and accessories.

Anqa Collective (UK): Anqa Collective is the online marketplace for refugee entrepreneurs supported by The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN). Head here to shop everything from baklava to lingerie to photographic prints!

Breadwinners (London, UK): Breadwinners is a social enterprise supporting refugees and asylum seekers into employment by selling artisan fresh bread. They provide jobs, work experience, training and mentoring for refugees and asylum seekers both through their market stalls and online e-commerce platform.

Choose Love (UK): Choose Love is a global movement across 15 countries. In just five years, the organisation has reached one million refugees and raised tens of millions for nearly 150 organisations providing vital support at every stage along migration routes from Europe to the Middle East and along the US-Mexico border.

CalaBelfast on Etsy* (UK): The name ‘Cala’ comes from ‘Caladh’ – an Irish word meaning port or landing place. CalaBelfast supports community based refugee integration projects in Belfast.

Chatterbox (UK): If you know someone looking to learn a language, why not gift them Chatterbox’s Digital Language Classes, from £10/month? They provide French, Arabic, and soon Spanish and English, with native professional language coaches.

Dust Designs on Etsy* (UK): Dust Designs creates handmade polymer clay earrings with 100% profit going to STAR Edinburgh, a University of Edinburgh student society that campaigns and volunteers on behalf of refugees in the UK.

The Habibi Project (UK): The Habibi Project is a 21st century clothing brand with streetwear style. I’m a fan of their Unisex Beanie, £10, and proceeds from every garment go directly to Refugee Youth and The 4Front Project.

Karen Tinsley on Etsy* (UK): Karen is a jeweller and has volunteered in the Calais refugee camps. She has a collection of pieces that benefit Mobile Refugee Support (MRS).

Love Welcomes (UK): Love Welcomes is a creative social enterprise that helps refugee women fleeing violence and poverty. They stock a collection of curated homewares and accessories, and collaborate with designers and artists.

MADE 51 (UK): MADE 51 is an established boutique marketplace showcasing the skills and traditions of refugees through craft, and is supported by UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency.

Muhra (US): Muhra is a Syrian Women’s Social Enterprise based in Istanbul, Turkey. They have bold, beautiful designs, with proceeds from each purchase going directly to the makers.

NEMI Teas (UK): NEMI Teas is a London-based tea specialist that offers a variety of tea blends both as loose-tea and teabags and a Chai Syrup. They provide employment to refugees, giving them local work experience and job readiness skills to enter the UK workforce and help them integrate into broader society.

1951 Coffee (US): 1951 Coffee is a a non-profit specialty coffee organisation based in the US that promotes the living situations of the refugee community and provides job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders.

Gifts Supporting Refugees Under £40

Gifts Supporting Refugees Under £40

QÄSA QÄSA Matako Earrings £35, Amaretti 2021 Diary £25, Red Cross Dance Print, £25, Adiff Beanie $25, MADE 51 Coin Purse £23, LKVM x Mosaik ‘University of’ T-shirt £25, Choose Love x Daniel Fletcher T-Shirt £25, MADE 51 Pink Earrings £23, ExtraVector Choose Love Charity Print* £20, Dr Zigs Giant Bubble Kit £20

Amaretti Paper Stores (UK): Amaretti is a sustainable paper goods company inspired by art and design, with a focus on functionality, simplicity and quality. This season they’re supporting the work of Mosaik Education with their Splatter collection.

CDUK (UK): CDUK is a small sustainable clothing wear brand, and has a special Plastic Free Refugee Made Tee £24, which supports their programme to train and employ refugees to make clothes in Greece.

Dr Zigs (UK): I remember the joy of blowing bubbles as a kid, and why shouldn’t all kids? Dr Zigs donates bubble kits to refugee camps, and also works to make their whimsical products sustainable too.

ExtraVector on Etsy* (UK): ExtraVector is a digital illustrator with a collection of prints on Etsy. This life boat illustration to help raise money for Choose Love, with 100% of profits will go to their charity work.

Migrateful (UK): For something a little different, why not gift a Digital Cookery Class, £20? Migrateful provides award-winning online cookery classes, as well as in-person classes in South London, UK.

Print Social (UK): Print Social is an online pre-sale platform enabling creators to enter the sustainable fashion world with a make-to-demand model. Here, Mosaik Education has teamed up with design duo LKVM to create their iconic ‘University of’ t-shirt.

QÄSA QÄSA (UK): QÄSA QÄSA is a digital boutique selling handcrafted wares from East Africa, a number of which support refugees with employment.

THTC (UK): One of my boyfriend’s favourite ethical t-shirt brands, THTC is dedicating 10% of sales from some of its t-shirt designs to Refugee Community Kitchen.

Gifts Supporting Refugees £40+

Gifts Supporting Refugees Above £40

Maria Callista for Anqa Lemon Silk Set £95, MADE 51 Coral Basket £60, Freya.im Grumpy Sun Medallion £65, Choose Love Legal Support £40, Red Cross Wave Print £55, Slow Factory Banned Countries Scarf $200, Love Welcomes Cashmere Scarf £55, MADE 51 Aleppo Doll £58, Adiff Tote Bag, $80 Vanina Comino Bag $400, Ragmate Handwoven Rug from €129, The Bike Project Adult Bicycle, from £220

The Bike Project (UK): Bicycles are a great way to get around, especially this year. You can sponsor a bike for a refugee for £10/month at The Bike Project, or go all out and purchase a bike to support the charity.

Freya.im (UK): Freya.im is a brass jewellery specialist. Between the 15th November – 15th December 2020, 10% of the sale price of each Grumpy Sun Medallion will go towards supporting Mosaik.

Ragmate (Europe): Rugs are a perfect investment right now, and Ragmate combines circular fabrics with support for female Syrian refugees. Their designs are unique and beautiful!

Slow Factory (US): The Slow Factory Foundation has been one of my guiding lights this year. First and foremost an education platform, the organisation is dedicated to improving sustainability literacy in fashion. Their ‘Banned Countries’ scarf highlights the 7 banned countries in the U.S. under Trump Administration: Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, which are part of what the UNHCR calls the biggest human rights crisis since WWII: the Refugee Crisis.

So Just Shop (UK): So Just Shop is an online fashion and accessories marketplace that I’ve enjoyed supporting for a number of years now. Their collection of pashminas are handmade in Manali, India by Tibetan refugees.

Vanina (Lebanon): Vanina is a social enterprise making luxury bags and accessories, topping the list for luxury gifts supporting refugees! They work with craftspeople and artisans within the Homs refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, as well as Bodhi Day, Hanukah, Winter Solstice,
and all the holidays taking place this month!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links (denoted '*'). Etsy UK kindly provided a voucher to source a number of items featured in this guide. All views and opinions expressed are my own. Photography by Lauren Shipley.

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