Back in November, we were really proud to be launching our Bonnie mob X Selfish Mother collaboration to share some #MOTHERLOVE, a mini collection of cotton/cashmere sweaters and playsuits to help raise awareness and funds for a charity close to our hearts, Refugee Support Europe. Here at Bonnie mob HQ, being a close team made up of quite a few mums, we are often talking about this upsetting current situation so close to our doorstep and how the constant images we see affects us. I was always left feeling frustrated, I really wanted to help, but what could I do? I'm a designer, a business owner and a mum, I felt that whatever I did would a tiny drop in the ocean of this massive problem that is the 'refugee crisis'! I could volunteer to go over to Greece and help, but I don't have any practical skills that would be of help on the ground, so what could I do? I can design clothes, I know factories that I can ask to help, I can put a bit of cash up front to buy stock, and I know some mums that will help promote and get the word out.... So I called Molly Gunn at Selfish Mother...
I've been a huge fan of Molly's since we met when we shared a pop up shop in Brighton last year, Molly's designs are mainly focused on sweatshirts and t shirts, so when I suggested designing some high end knits in her signature motifs, she was in! I dusted off my womenswear designer cap and sent swatches off to our factories, we quickly came up with a capsule collection of sweaters and playsuits. We placed an order with our amazing factories who also wanted to get involved and help and we sat back waiting for it to arrive.
Marketing our new Charity collection was a pleasure as we were really lucky to have support from some super mums and fabulous in their fields ladies. These included and Clemmie Hooper and her Mum Judith, Lauren Laverne and Zoe Ball to name just a few. And of course many, many of you also bought it for yourselves, for your mums, for your babies and we were over the moon that you did! We want to give you a big warm THANK YOU for helping us in our mini mission, thus far.
So far we have raised over £4500 and rising from the sales of the collection alone and we are hoping much more through raising awareness and those who donated directly to the charity. We have just replenished the stock of some of the sweater styles, so now is the time to get one in time for Mothers day!
We wanted to give you an update on the wonderful ways in which your contributions have and continue to help. Refugee Support Europe have rapidly grown from 1 to 3 camps across Greece. Their goal is to improve the livelihoods of refugees with dignity at the heart of everything they do.
As we approach Mother's Day here in the UK, I remember how I was particularly drawn to their commitment to help new mums and newborns in their camps. Looking back on my first days with my babies many years ago, I couldn't imagine the fear and struggle these new mums (often very young and without other family members to offer support) had to go through. Those precious first days should at the very least, be safe and comfortable.
Refugee Support Europe aim to house new parents for those first few days in safe, comfortable surroundings, just so they can recover, bond and adjust to life with their new babies. I was so happy that we were able to do our little bit towards making this a reality for these mums, especially this winter when it snowed in Greece for the first time in many years and hit a freezing -16 degrees in camp!! Can you imagine taking a new baby back to a makeshift home in those conditions! Can you imagine trying to keep your young children warm in a home that has no insulation or heating? Our money helped home a family with a newborn for a month in an apartment in January, and it helped pay for much needed gas bottles to try to keep the makeshift homes warm for all the small kids in camp.
Pictured here is Saleh proudly showing his 3-day-old daughter. She was born prematurely and the family was homed in an apartment paid for by our donations during the cold weather. Earlier in the year, a premature newborn baby had died in the camp, after being sent home from hospital too early.
This little newborn baby was given warm housing outside of the camp, with the money that you have helped raise! So so beautiful and what a gorgeous little bundle.
There is so much good work of importance to share also, these camps are all about human dignity and it's all in aspects that seem little but mean a huge amount to individuals.
- A weekly visit to a Mini-Mart that allows each person to use a points system to choose the foods and supplies that THEY need. A similar set up with a calm and clean environment to choose from a selection of good quality clothing.
- Knowing the importance of play for the kids, a playground has been built at one of the camps with 6 swings and 6 rockers. The setting up of a Refugee Penpal system which has so far paired 20 children with the UK and daily creative and physical activities.
- A completely refitted community kitchen in Alexandreia which provides a hot Syrian meal once a day.
Faris is a key member of the kitchen team in Alexandreia. Here he is with his family.
- English language classes 6 days a week and a fully functioning library containing English, German and Arabic books.
- A cafe with TV and Music run by a group of residents on the camp.
Play day at the camp!
Families finally able to move on from the camp. Of course, the camps should not be a permanent living situation for anyone.
Taken from their Instagram account, this incredible image showing how as temperatures dropped to -16, the camp still has to function as a home and life goes on.
It's truly amazing the work that they do, and we are so proud to be helping by raising awareness and donating through the sale of our sweaters and playsuits. Here is a short video. Watch it, it's very inspirational and beautiful images from their Instagram account @refugeesupporteurope and @newyorkerphoto who made a visit there last December. A big THANK YOU again.
This is @newyorkerphotos sharing pictures and words
Photos from Refugee Support's Instagram page
If you would like to help fund this amazing work run by all the selfless volunteers at Refugee Support Europe, for each sweater sold, we donate £20 and for each playsuit, we donate £10. They cannot do this incredible work without the help of us all.
Of course, if you would prefer to donate directly to them, please do, every little donation really does help!