Community Refugee Volunteers


Donna from our team has just returned from 6 weeks volunteering in Athens where the situation for refugees is so much worse than it was last winter. Now the world doesn’t view it as a crisis, fewer funds are available, news doesn’t reach the UK and the numbers of volunteers and services have decreased dramatically. Sadly the 70,000+ people trapped in Greece are mostly forgotten by the rest of the world but we at ASN Team UK and our partner NGOs continue to work in difficult conditions to do the best we can for people who need help most.

While working with Medical Volunteers International (MVI) who are a team of volunteer doctors, nurses, paramedics and medical students from all over the world that provide free medical treatment in squats, social and community centres, refugee camps, via street outreach and are currently setting up a permanent clinic in Athens Donna approached our board with an important, often overlooked funding request.

Many donors and volunteers do not realise the essential role of community refugee volunteers to the work that all grassroots NGOs do.

In the case of MVI it is wonderful that so many medical professionals continue to volunteer, often during their holidays and a network of amazing donors ensure access to medication and supplies but without the refugee volunteers it would be impossible to treat patients safely and use those supplies.

Refugee volunteers, usually young men who are trapped in Greece alone and without family support, who carry deep personal and emotional scars, who are struggling to find their place in Europe and who many people view negatively are the heart of the majority of small NGOs. It is them who truly understand what life is like for the refugees we help. It is them who build trust between the refugee community and NGO. It is them who have to hear hundreds of stories of suffering every month and translate it to the international volunteers. It is them who have to explain complex and sensitive information to the patients. It is them who are always on call to translate in an emergency. It is them who are so committed to helping their community that they use their small UNHCR cash allowance to buy a homeless person a sandwich or take patients to hospital to act as translators. It is them who work every day for months on end. And most importantly it is them who need extra support.

While international volunteers self fund their trips these amazing young guys simply don’t have that luxury. During the extrordinarily cold weather of the last month in Athens one of my refugee translators gave his last pair of socks to a young boy who had the cold and he ended up with the same cold as a result….. They are truly selfless superstars

In an ideal world all community volunteers should be compensated for their time but many donors specify which aid the donation is to be spent on meaning many NGOs are unable to pay these guys.”

From December we at ASN will pay a small monthly stipend to one of the MVI refugee volunteers. We would love to be able to pay both stipends but in order to do that we need more funds from you, our amazing donors! Could you commit to a monthly donation? Our charity checkout link can be found here

Learn more about MVI here.

For more information on how important refugee volvolunters are…/refugee-to-refugee-humanita…


2018 – What A Year!

What a year 2018 has been.  Looking back over the year, its astonishing to see that we have spent over £27,500 on aid and support for the many refugees in Greece.  Its fantastic that the amount we have helped has grown year on year since we began in 2015, and this is down to the amazing generosity and hard work of our supporters.  When we say ASN Team UK is powered by you, we mean it- we remain completely voluntarily run and rely on donations to provide the help and support we do.

Here’s a breakdown of how we’ve made a difference this year;

  • £1777 has gone to Nea Kavala Art Without Borders funding food and art supplies.
  • £1143 has been spent on shipping donated aid items out to Greece.
  • £278 was spent on The Khora Info Map Project.
  • £2755 has been spent on the Hygiene Kit Program in Leros in collaboration with ECHO100Plus.
  • £4037 was granted to The Orange House funding food, renovations and the start up of a new project.
  • £1217 has been spent on food for refugees in Rhodes in collaboration with Oasis.
  • £1488 has supported residents in Villa Artemis and Pikpa, Leros funding a new washing machine, baby items, and other support as needed in collaboration with Leros Solidarity Network.
  • £440 was sent as a grant to Tiafi working in Turkey to help fund the operation of rehabilitation of disabled and injured child refugees.
  • £3652 was granted ECHO100Plus to support the operation of their amazing day centre- The Hub.
  • £3352 was spent on underwear in collaboration with The Unmentionables.
  • £3372 has been sent to Samos Volunteers to help fund their vital work on Samos.
  • £2466 was granted to The Greek Council For Refugees to help fund food vouchers and emergency items.
  • £343 was sent to Steps to fund a months worth of food for distribution in Athens.
  • £1127 has been given to Cribs International, funding rent for vulnerable refugee families in Athens.
  • £74 has been sent to Doc Mobile in Athens to support their work.

This aid has literally reached thousands of people in need, and thank you for all your support.  Our focus remains on reaching as many people as possible to help provide aid, support and hope to these vulnerable people.  The number of refugees in Greece is rising and there are still many gaps in care.  Help us fill as many of these as we can by clicking the button below.  All our thanks from the ASN Team- Ben, Denise, Donna, Joel and Sean.

We’ve given a grant to Samos Volunteers

Thanks to your support we have recently provided a grant to Samos Volunteers . Samos is currently home to thousands of refugees in squalid, and terribly overcrowded conditions. The camp even spills out in tents into the forest, and winter is fast approaching. Samos Volunteers provide a lifeline through their Alpha centre. Here’s what they said;

“Dear Aegean Solidarity Network Team UK,

Thank you very much for your generous gift. We have received the grant of €1500, and are excited to continue our projects and activities with your help.

The money will be used to keep our community centre, ‘the Alpha Centre’, running. As such, it will be spent on things such as tea and sugar for everyone who comes to Alpha to find warmth and shelter; notebooks, pens and stationery for our students and teachers who commit to learning and teaching a new language or skill; and cleaning supplies that help us offer everyone from the camp a hygienic and clean getaway from the dreadful conditions they are forced to live in in the camp.

Furthermore, the money will be used to purchase the supplies (laundry detergent, laundry bags, cleaning supplies) for our laundry station, an initiative that we’ve set up together with Médecins sans Frontières to help improve the hygiene conditions in the camp, and combat the widespread scabies and bed bugs infestation.

We couldn’t be more grateful for your support, as we wouldn’t be able to continue our initiatives on Samos without you.

Thank you for everything.”

We couldn’t make the difference we do without your support, and we’re completely voluntary run, so rely on donations to be able to continue. Can you spare a few £s to help us continue to make a difference?


Quick News Round Up

Despite the refugee crisis in Greece being very much off our media, people are still arriving, and there are many people needing help. There are over 60,000 refugees in Greece at the moment. The Eastern Aegean islands host around 18,000 with the hotspot camps at well over double capacity. Here’s a brief summary of what we’ve been doing to help give hope, and plug the gaps in care.


In the Summer we funded 2,500 pairs of undies.  These were distributed to residents of Eleonas camp in Athens by Durex who have partnered with The Unmentionables.


We’re delighted to announce that we funded a months food distribution for the amazing Steps in Athens! Steps provide a number of activities including the incredibly popular One Stop which they describe here.
Between July and August, thanks to your donations we were able to support Steps in serving 1620 hot meals  in the centre of Athens.
One of our team recently volunteered with Steps, she said;
“At a little spot on one of the main streets in Athens the Ithica Laundry van, a team of doctors, a hairdresser, legal team, mobile library and the Steps team literally set up on the pavement; collectively they call it One Stop. Everyone is welcome, no questions asked to help or use the services for free; mostly refugees attend each time. Music is played, children’s activities, emotional and practical support offered and the Steps team serve drinks and prepare a hot meal on the pavement. The whole thing works so seamlessly, countless different languages are spoken yet without being told what to do everyone works together in a way I’ve never seen before to share an experience and build a sense of community in a truly wonderful way.
With so much pressure on refugee support services in Athens, continued high numbers of refugees arriving and so many people having no choice but to survive on the streets One Stop provide truly valuable services to hundreds of people every week.”
We need your continued support and donations to keep making a difference to projects and refugees across Greece where over 60,000 people and hundreds of new arrivals every week remain trapped in the system.


Baby Items…Funded!

We’ve bought a number of pushchairs for Pikpa in Leros and collectively sent thousands of nappies, baby items, toiletries and hundreds of bras to various projects.


We’ve Caught up With Our Partners in Leros…

It was wonderful to catch up with our wonderful partners at ECHO100Plus and Leros Solidarity Network in Leros in September.  Strengthening our collaboration and partnerships.
We continue to fund the hygiene pack project in Leros and support other projects on a regular basis such as Oasis in Rhodes and Nea Kavala Art Without Borders in Athens.


2 Grants Sent…

We’ve given a grant to the Greek Council For Refugees to support their work with unaccompanied minors, and also given a grant to Cribs International to fund a months rent for 6 families with small babies.


We’ve Had Fun Fundraising During Festival Season!

Inspired by our partners from Kings Heath Action For Refugees in Birmingham, we’ve been fundraising by spreading some sparkle across Sussex at various summer festivals!


You Have to Get Your Hands on One of These!

The incredible Bearwood Action For Refugees and Kings Heath Action For Refugees launched a joint initiative last year and produced the stunning “This Cookbook Belongs to Us”. The book is amazing and you can’t help but smile as you read through it.

Owing to very popular demand they’re reprinting the beautiful book. It features amazing recipes from organisations and individuals, including many refugees, we work with here and those in transit. With incredible hand drawn illustrations by Erin Power, it really is totally unique and what’s more every single penny goes to support refugees through ASN Team UK.

If you haven’t got your copy yet, now’s your chance.  You can order your copy right here via their online shop by clicking here.


We Couldn’t Have Achieved Any of This Without You.
ASN Team UK is voluntary run, so your donations have maximum impact. We really need your support to continue the work we do. We have an amazing team of 11 running the 10 mile Great South Run in Portsmouth next week. Why not sponsor the team, to help give HOPE to refugees.

We’ve spent nearly £14000 on aid in the first half of this year! Thank you for making this happen!

Expenditure update Jan 2018 – Jun 2018

  • What a year it’s been so far, and not without its challenges! Nearly 60,000 refugees remain in Greece, the hotspot camps on the islands remain over double their capacity. People are still arriving. There are still many gaps in care and aid, and we continue to do our best to help plug these. Fundraising has been particularly challenging, possibly due to the lack of media coverage on the situation. Regardless of this, made possible by our supporters, we have spent nearly £14,000 on helping and supporting refugees in Greece in the first 6 months of this year.
  • £526 has been spent shipping donated clothes, toiletries and baby items to Greece for distribution through a number of the projects we support.
  • £440 has been provided to Tiafi, an organisation on the western coast of Turkey to provide transport for disabled/injured refugee children to their rehabilitation centre.
  • £278 has been spent on The Khora info map project in Athens.
  • £871 has been spent on providing underwear for refugees in one of the camps in Athens through The Unmentionables.
  • £1418 has been spent on the hygiene kit project in Leros, working with ECHO100Plus.
  • £560 has been spent on food for the refugee community in Rhodes in collaboration with Oasis.
  • £2837 has provided a refurbished shower, a changing room, the conversion of a classroom plus food for The Orange House in Athens.
  • £972 has provided baby items amongst other needs for the refugees in Leros in collaboration with Leros Solidarity Network.
  • £1132 has been sent to Samos Volunteers to help provide necessary resources for their drop in centre for the refugee community on Samos.
  • £511 has been spent on food for Nea Kavala Art Without Borders.
  • £3652 has been sent as a grant to ECHO100Plus for use in The Hub drop in centre on Leros.
  • £241 has provided food vouchers for vulnerable refugees in Athens through the Greek Council for Refugees.
  • And, because we are a small, voluntary run charity, it means we have kept our running/admin costs down to under 3% at £350.
  • We couldn’t have done any of this without the generous donations of our supporters, and the amazing fundraising efforts of our supporting partners- Bearwood Action For Refugees, Kings Heath Action For Refugees and St Peters Mission Group. Thank you for your ongoing support, without which we wouldn’t have made the difference we have.

2500 pairs of undies. FUNDED!

Thanks to you, we have funded the provision of 2500 pairs of undies for residents of the Eleonas refugee camp in Athens. Here’s what he distribution team wrote about their experience.

On the 20th June it was World Refugee Day. Today, more than 68 million people around the world are refugees or internally displaced as a result of conflict or persecution. That is equivalent to the population of the world’s 20th largest country, with over 60,000 refugees based in Greece. Each year World Refugee Day reminds us to think about what more we can we do to help and commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.

This year, a team of us from Durex (RB) in the UK were inspired to help. We have partnered with The Unmentionables, who are a non-governmental organisation helping forcibly removed individuals and communities around the world by providing them with safe and consistent access to sexual and reproductive health education, services, protection and empowerment programs. Together we are on a mission to provide vital sexual & reproductive health materials to refugees.

This World Refugee Day, with the help of ASN UK, we were able to distribute underwear to 2,000 refugees in Athens – fulfilling a basic need that we all take for granted.

We spent the day at Eleonas Refugee Camp, which is home to 2,500 people. They live in 275 former shipping containers, each is home to multiple families. Many NGO’s are based in the camp; they are essential in providing clothes, activities and education to those who live there.

Throughout the day, we sorted through 2,500 pairs of underwear that we collected the day before – we had enough to fill 4 shopping trollies and 2 wheelbarrows! When distributing the underwear, we met families from all over the world, some who had been there for over 2 years. It was a truly humbling experience, judging by the amount of excitement a pair clean underwear brought, it’s clear how crucial the work charities like The Unmentionables and ASN UK do.

Photography isn’t permitted in the camp, but we did manage to get a couple of photos of our day:

We have been completely inspired by the work that The Unmentionables and ASN UK do, making such a massive impact to refugees every day. In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.

See you for World Refugee Day next year!

Zoom in on ECHO100PLUS

For refugee week this year, we are focusing on the projects we support in turn.

Zoom in on ECHO100PLUS

ECHO100PLUS is an Austrian organisation which responded to the refugee crisis in Greece by setting up in Ritsona and Leros.

Whilst in Ritsona there was a shortage of water in summer 2016, we helped to fund 7500 bottles for distribution by ECHO, but the bulk of our work with them has been in Leros. It was in Leros in 2016 that our incredible relationship was formed with ECHO, and we started to work together to provide tailor made hygiene kits on a regular basis for the residents of PIKPA and Villa Artemis. We funded the supplies and ECHO did the ground work in shopping, packing and distributing.

This project is still running today and has been really successful. ECHO manage a resource centre in Leros called The Hub. This initiative is unique on the island, and provides a number of resources and activities for the refugee community.

ECHO manages a motivated and passionate team of volunteers who work hard to really make a difference. We have supported The Hub by financing an interactive whiteboard as well as more recently contributing towards their sewing project.

The team at ECHO are incredible and we really value our partnership with them.

Zoom in on The Khora

The Khora was a multi storey building in Athens which offered an amazing range of facilities, and support initiatives for refugees in the city to use on a drop in centre style basis. It also offered hundreds of lunches each day to people in need.

The centre was run by a cooperative group of volunteers and established itself as a vital resource for the refugee community.

We sponsored 2 projects at The Khora- the 1st was a rooftop garden project- which allowed produce for the kitchen to be grown on the roof, and the project ran successfully for nearly 2 years.

The 2nd is an information map project. The maps are produced in various relevant languages providing information on vital services that the refugee community have access to, but might not know about. The centrefold of each booklet has a map pinpointing each resource in the city.

Imagine arriving in a foreign city, not speaking the language, with limited resources- these maps have proved hugely beneficial, so much so that they have been available in The Khora centre as well as given out during outreach work.

For various reasons, The Khora have had to move from their current building and are currently in the process of looking for new premises, however recognising the value of the information maps, they want to continue this project even whilst still looking for new premises. We sponsor the resources needed to produce the maps- ie printing and paper.

Thank you for helping us continue to support this vital resource.

Zoom in on The Orange House

Zoom in on The Orange House

The first time we went to The Orange House, we were overwhelmed with the warm, welcoming, friendly atmosphere inside.

The centre is run by the Greek grassroot NGO called Zaatar whom we have developed a fabulous working relationship with. The building is home to up to 25 vulnerable refugee women who are often referred to the centre.

The ethos is that The Orange House will provide temporary shelter to the women whilst they establish and build a new life in Athens, and get into work to become self sufficient.

The centre is all about maintaining the residents dignity, and volunteers are not allowed into the women’s living space on the 1st floor.

The centre also has a common social space which acts as a safe environment for the residents and refugees in the city to share. The centres values on respect and inclusion are always upheld, and must be respected by visitors.

The Orange House now has several classrooms (we recently funded the conversion of a new classroom), and these offer lessons and classes in a variety of topics for the city’s refugee community.

In addition- a shower is on offer for people from the camps and squats to use and we recently funded its much needed renovation. The residents and volunteers also cook a number of lunch meals available for those in need, and we help fund food supplies when we can.

It really is an amazing place, and offers so much. We are really proud to be part of its success.

Zoom in on Leros Solidarity Network

For refugee week this year, we want to focus on some of the projects and organisations we support and work with.

ASN Team UK began as a sister organisation to Leros Solidarity Network. In the height of the crisis in summer 2015, Leros was overlooked by the large aid organisations due to its small size and remote location.

The island was completely overwhelmed by the hundreds upon hundreds of daily arrivals of refugees. Bearing in mind the islands population is only around 8000, it gives you a sense of the enormity of what was happening.

Leros is unlike the other islands which saw and still see refugees arrive directly to their shores. Instead, the Lerian authorities are responsible to collect refugees who had arrived on the small rocky outcrop island called Farmakonisi which only hosts a small military presence for a population.

Leros Solidarity Network pioneered the volunteer movement on Leros, and it was this small group of locals and holiday makers who were paramount in plugging the gaps in care for refugees when the islands authorities ran out of money or were unable to provide adequate resources.

In 2015 with the support of their international friends, LSN acquired the use of a small villa in the grounds of the islands hospital. Villa Artemis was used as a shelter for the most vulnerable cases identified from the makeshift camp in the islands port police yard. It is still used to this day for vulnerable families and single women from the refugee community to live in.

Spring 2016 saw LSN renovate and transform a disused hospital unit into a safe residence for vulnerable refugees, mainly the elderly, families, disabled and unaccompanied minors. Funded solely by donations, PIKPA was born. This was an incredible achievement and continues to operate successfully today.

Leros is home to one of the infamous hotspot refugee camps and the island currently holds around 900 refugees according to recent UNHCR data.

LSN continues to support the refugee community on the island, and in turn- we support LSN as and when we can. We have financially supported them in their work in Villa Artemis, PIKPA, by helping to finance food and more recently baby items.

Visit our website to find out more and donate to help us continue to make a