Adam Buxton and Romesh Ranganathan in Union Chapel refugee fundraiser

PUBLISHED: 11:45 18 January 2017

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan.. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan.. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA

Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Stand Up for the Refugee Crisis and the Habibi Project are both hoping to raise money and awareness for displaced people

The Habibi Project, Maya Yousef. Picture: Sara Ginn The Habibi Project, Maya Yousef. Picture: Sara Ginn

A new year, a new start. This is what many of us are counting on to kick ourselves into gear. But for some people, this year will be no different. The number of displaced people continues to increase and cold conditions make their suffering even greater.

Lucy Blake and Beatrice Warren, two friends from Hackney, set up Food and Warmth for Refugees at the end of 2015, having seen for themselves the hardships experienced by displaced people in camps in Europe.

The grassroots project is now raising money with laughter. Stand Up for the Refugee Crisis at the Union Chapel on January 20 stars Adam Buxton, Romesh Ranganathan, Joe Lycett and many more well-known comedians.

The pair’s first stand up event took place in January last year and raised nearly £30,000. They invested this in various projects, including a mobile kitchen serving hot meals to 1,000 refugees a day in Belgrade and a lifeboat for rescue missions in Greece.

“Over the past eighteen months, we have made a number of trips to refugee camps in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Greece,” says Blake. “We have been horrified by what we have seen and heard of the experiences the people in those camps have endured.

“As well as raising money, our event is about us people coming together to stand in support for, and solidarity with, refugees which we see as a positive stand.”

The following evening the Habibi Project is presenting a celebration of diversity to raise money for Help Refugees UK and Bristol Refugee Rights. The concert on January 21 features performances by musicians and poets from around the globe, including Syria, Nepal, Ghana and the UK.

Set up by Micah Woldu, the Habibi Project aims to raise awareness for humanitarian, environmental and socioeconomic issues.

“Half of me comes from a family secure for a couple of and feels pretty confident about the future, even in these times,” says Woldu. “However, suddenly the refugee crisis made me think of the other half of my roots. This part of my ancestry has a very different story. Careers, plans for the future, property all abandoned because of an impossible, indeed deadly, political situation.”

Syrian musician Maya Youssef brings her kanun to the Union Chapel stage, with Nepalese group Namlo combine traditional sounds with a variety of musical influences. Pianist Karim Kamar and spoken word poets Emmanuel Speak and Oshanti Poets represent the UK contingent.


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