Today is World Refugee Day and the Chelsea Foundation have teamed up with our global charity partner, Plan International to help raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.
Coronavirus has made the world a more dangerous place, especially for those who have had to flee their homes. People living in refugee camps are especially vulnerable to the virus, due to overcrowding and limited clean water and health facilities. Lockdown restrictions and school closures have also made it harder for girls to carry on with their studies, while placing them at increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
Most recently, the Foundation joined forces with Big Leaf Foundation to deliver weekly football sessions for displaced young people beginning new lives in East Surrey. The project aims to combat social isolation that has particularly affected young, displaced people who have limited access to support networks, activities and education.
We also invited refugees to our Premier League Kicks programme sessions to give them an opportunity to play football and meet young people from similar backgrounds. The Foundation also donated boots to the young refugees who are attending the sessions.
Prior to this in October 2017, Chelsea Women legend Katie Chapman visited the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan and helped to deliver a series of football coaching sessions while meeting adults and children displaced by conflict. The visit provided the refugees with top-level guidance, fun and laughter and gave them the reassurances that they had not been forgotten by the outside world.
Six months later, Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck joined Chelsea Foundation coaches and CEO of Plan International UK Tanya Barron at the Azraq Refugee Camp, which at the time was home to 36,000 Syrian refugees, to see how our global charity partner was supporting families living in the camp.
During the pandemic, families in Azraq have been living under one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Plan International has been helping girls to stay connected through its Himayati project. Now run via WhatsApp, girls are interacting via online sessions and are able to discuss gender and life skills, allowing them to stay connected and provide each other with support.
The sessions also enable them to talk about how they have been coping during lockdown and how to reduce stress and make the most of their time. They also include arts and craft sessions, where they learn and teach each other how they can use materials they already have in their homes.
Head of Chelsea Foundation, Simon Taylor commented: ‘On World Refugee Day, it’s important we take the opportunity to once again use the power of football to help raise awareness for important causes such as the refugee camps in Azraq that are supported by our global charity partner Plan International, and also the programmes closer to home in the UK that we support through our community programmes.
‘Covid has only heightened the risks faced by vulnerable families around the world, so it’s important we play our part in raising awareness and continuing to support these life changing programmes.’
Plan International is working in communities affected by coronavirus all over the world, ensuring that the most vulnerable children and families get the support they need. To support the charity’s Coronavirus: Children’s Emergency Appeal please click here.