Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On what's so wrong with treating people right?

This is what's written on the back of my super awesome orange Refugee Council t-shirt. I went running in my Refugee Council T-Shirt over the weekend and I always get looks of slight puzzlement as people strain to read what's written on the front and on the back (that in the fact it's a rather appropriate Dutch orange). 

So what's so wrong about treating people right? The UK has a legal and moral obligation to respect and offer safe haven to all those who fear persecution in their country of origin. Yet media and political pressure have seen a culture of what Gibney calls non-arrival measures in Europe. Simultaneously making it more difficult for asylum seekers to arrive on UK soil and tightening the restrictions on granting asylum and refugee status once they do arrive. We need to bring a sense of kindness and decency back to policies on refugees and Britain needs to live up to its commitment to the 1951 Convention on Refugees. The Refugee Council helps people to live their lives in safety and dignity - please help me to raise money for their incredibly important work. 

This is what your donation contributes to:

£30 could buy educational materials, including pens and notebooks, for young refugees.

£50 could help us buy much needed items, including shoes and clothes, for newly arrived children.

£75 could help us continue youth activities like cricket, football and trips to the countryside, which are invaluable to the children.

£150 could help us ensure refugee children get into school.

£250 could help our campaigning and lobbying efforts on policies that affect refugees and asylum seekers.

Please donate whatever you can here and I'll keep running for refugees and asylum seekers!

No Woman Should be Missed Out Campaign

If you are registered to vote in the UK please write a letter to your MP (if you live in Scotland you can also write to your MSP to support bills related to female refugees rights here) it's a campaign from the Refugee Council and Asylum Aid called 'No Woman Should be Missed Out' this campaign , about 7000 female refugees enter the UK each year fleeing persecution and violence. The 1951 Convention on Refugees made no specific provision for women refugees, if a woman is persecuted because of her gender she applies to become a Convention refugee under the banner of 'belonging to a particular social group'. The UK showed a commitment to eradicating violence and offering protection to female refugees in their Violence Against Women Strategy, yet only one of the 100s of actions outlined in the strategy has been put into practice. Westminster is due to review the strategy in November so please write to your MP to ask them to protect women and girls seeking asylum from violence both at home and abroad. 

This is Asylum Aid's very handy leaflet on the campaign

And you can write to your MP here it takes 2 minutes and can bring about the positive change we need in asylum policy directed at women and girls. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On Faisal and Fundraising

I've currently reached 103% of my slightly squiggled target and I'm delighted with it - not because of the target aspect, which was a bit arbitrary at best, but because of the kindness and generosity of so many people which have allowed me to raise £395 for the Refugee Council to date. Really, a deep and resounding thank you to everyone who has donated. If you haven't done so yet.....please do.....the Refugee Council needs your support to provide vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in the U.K. You can give here:

Fundraising is a rather funny thing if you think about it - through doing something difficult people give you money to give to someone else. Perhaps there's something to do with the northern Scottish Calvinistic ideas of suffering and austere giving which made this so popular when I was a kid, anyone remember TRA sponsored walks, they were the shit.... Getting 600 grumpy teenagers to march up Tain Hill and resist the urge to light up a fag behind one of the pine trees was a Herculean effort on the part of my high school teachers. Respect. 

Tain Hill, looking rather more lovely than I remember it....

I've been reading a lot about children and young people entering the U.K. as asylum seekers, the Refugee Council published an execellent report entitled 'Not a Minor Offence: Children Locked up as Part of the Asylum Process'. To accompany this they made a short film with the help of Faisal, a 15 year old asylum seeker from Afghanistan. His story highlights the fact that the U.K. still detains children, some of whom have been through shocking and horrific experiences. If you have time, please watch his story.   


All children and young people have the right to live in peace and safety, they have the right to an education, to people who support and care for them and the right to live in freedom. While we may have moaned whilst walking up Tain Hill, young people like Faisal and young refugees all over the world face a constant battle to live a life in peace and safety. 

On another note - the very lovely Oscar and Lieneke are running in the Dam tot Dam to raise money for Fair Food, an NGO which supports sustainable and fair food growth and supply.  If you have any extra euros you can sponsor them here

Monday, August 20, 2012

On holiday running

I've just got back from holiday in western France, which was pretty awesome and I managed to do some holiday running while I was there. Holiday running seems to be a specific subset of running which involves getting up at a silly time to run through truly beautiful landscapes. In France I ran through vinyards and across sandy island beaches. It made a nice change to running through the Vondelpark, but I missed my normal route - is that weird? We saw drank wine and cider, ate cheese, made very complicated meals using a Primus stove, went to a scandalous music festival and made friends with a cat. So it was indeed a bit lazy and so now I have to get back into Rocky style training big style. This is Ro who harbored illusions of stealing said cat and taking him back to Paris with her. 

Suddenly returning to the Netherlands during a 'tropical' heatwave has been a bit of a shock, so I haven't been running for a few days. In 31C city heat, the only thing I've been able to do is sit around in my knickers and sweat. But today I'm heading off to the swimming pool and then for an evening run. 

I'm running for the Refugee Council in September (which is next month eeek) I'm currently at 96% of my fundraising total - so please dig deep. It's a wonderful organisation which helps some of the U.K's most vulnerable people. You can donate here 

Oh and happy Eid everyone!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Strijders voor de liefde

If you speak Dutch and live in the Netherlands, watch this documentary. It's about the acceptance and persecution of gay people in the Netherlands and in other countries. It's very well made and touching. Also around half the documentary is in English with Dutch subtitling.

The story of David who is now in an asylum seekers centre awaiting a decision on refugee status after being persecuted for being gay in Jamaica. His story reminded me of how important human rights are, and that both love and asylum are essential human rights.

Watch it!

On running through raindrops or Schotse hardlopen

Today I woke up and thought to myself - what a lovely day, the sun is shining, there's a slight breeze - perfect conditions for a run in the park. But of course I fannied around for about two hours, packing  and half watching the Olympics. So when I eventually put on my running kit (that which is not yet packed) and headed out, the dark clouds had begun to roll in. By the time I got to the Dutch-Turkish friendship bridge it had begun to rain. Oh how I laughed at the people cycling by with there umbrellas up. Oh how I laughed out the other side of my face when I got to the Vondelpark and the heavens opened. Like any sensible person I sought shelter, for about 5 minutes, until I got terribly bored (and was still getting a bit wet under the trees) and began to run further. Through a thunder and lightening storm. For a portion of the time I tried to pretend I was a super Buddhist monk/Usain Bolt and I could run between the raindrops, until I realised that all my clothing was soaked through. Still, at least rain cools you down and so it made the run a bit nicer.

Well, there you go - my first rain running experience (I'm suprised I lasted this long here in Amsterdam). 

I think that's some kind of dedication/stupidity that deserves sponsorship - so if you haven't given, please do. 

Here's a picture of me soaking wet, with what my father would describe as 'a soor face'.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

On things I see when I'm running.....the Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

After a terribly disappointing and not fun at all, run yesterday, I had a spiffing run today and felt like I was going a bit faster than normal - that may, however, be a self fabrication.

What made the run even spiffinger was when I got back home I managed to catch the end of the Gay Pride March on their way past the Homomonument and onwards to the Dam. Despite the rubbish weather during the afternoon, the skies had cleared and it was perfect parade weather.

Many people seek asylum in the U.K, the Netherlands and in many other countries due to persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Homomonument in Amsterdam West was erected in memorial to the gay men and women who were persecuted under the Nazi regime but serves to remind us of all people who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation.


Enjoy Gay Pride 2012 Amsterdam! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Oh Ghandi.

I found this on the internet today and I rather liked it - O.K. I know that 'be the change you wish to see in the world' has become cliched but it doesn't make it any less true! I'm enjoying some time at the moment just to be free and to listen with my whole heart and I'm pretty thankful that I get the opportunity to do that, to work out what kind of person I want to be, without stress. Most people don't have that privilege - I know that times are hard for many people during this recession but refugees and asylum seekers are affected disproportionately, with cuts to various services, many are not getting the help and support they need. Refugees and asylum seekers need champions for justice. And that's where you come in; support Vluchtelingen Werk Nederland, The Refugee Council or the Scottish Refugee Council in any way you can - you can donate to my efforts to raise money for the Refugee Council through running in the Ladies Damloop here