Helping refugee families start the school year on the front foot
Welcoming refugee families and making sure children have what they need to fit in at school
As schoolkids in Melbourne looked forward to returning to school after an extremely disrupted 2020, an Australian retailed stepped up to help refugee and asylum seeker families in the western suburbs give their kids the supplies they need to start the new school year right.
Smiggle donated well over 250 items including school bags, lunchboxes, drink bottles and pencil cases to West Welcome Wagon.
West Welcome Wagon (WWW) is a volunteer-run not-for-profit that provides material aid and support to refugees and asylum seekers in Melbourne's west, including areas like Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong and Wyndham. Assisting more than 800 families, including more than 500 with school-aged children from more than 30 different countries, WWW provides good quality donated items including furniture, bedding, clothing, children's toys and appliances.
WWW Chairman Chris Scarris said the children would love the back to school packs. He said the organisation usually helps between 200 and 300 children each school year, but had already reach out to 450 children this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's really good as we're trying to help out as many kids as we can with stationery, backpacks and lunchboxes. There are about 15 boxes of stuff, so that will get us through the first half of the year.
Donated items important for children entering unfamiliar surroundings
While pencil cases, drink bottles, lunch boxes and backpacks might not seem like ground-breaking donations, they're hugely important for children facing the kinds of challenges that asylum seeker children face as they adjust to a new culture, a new language and a new way of life. In these unfamiliar and often scary surroundings, these items help young people feel acknowledged and welcomed.
With families often facing financial hardship due to not being allowed to or finding it difficult to gain employment, school supplies can fall down the list of priorities. These donations will mean asylum seeker children will have similar items to the other kids at school as they try to fit in and make friends.
GIVIT Together a chance for companies to give back
The request from West Welcome Wagon was originally listed as a GIVIT Together project. GIVIT Together is home to bigger requests and larger projects. On this part of the website you can currently find requests like:
- digital devices for a special school;
- a long list of items for a mum and kids escaping domestic violence to furnish their empty new home;
- musical instruments for a residential secondary school for vulnerable young people;
- furniture, tools and gardening supplies for the refurbishment of a homeless shelter; and
- winter clothing for an organisation supporting elderly First Nations Australians.
GIVIT Together gives companies, organisations, sports teams, schools, families, and other groups a way to target their social impact by donating to a project that catches their eye and their heart. For corporates, GIVIT Together is an interesting way to engage employees in the company's corporate social responsibility efforts. With community organisations now able to request donations of services, time and volunteering via GIVIT, this is another avenue for groups looking to give back in their local area.
After such a difficult year for so many families, we’re so happy to be able to donate backpacks, lunchboxes, drink bottles and pencil cases in the hope that it gives kids the confidence to head back to school this year.
“During the bushfire disaster early last year, we had so many of our own team members come forward with stories from their customers about the devastation in their community or a family they knew who had lost everything. GIVIT made it possible to easily facilitate our donation straight to the families who needed it most, with the hope of putting a smile on their kids’ faces - exactly what Smiggle is all about!
How you can help
Not sure how to help asylum seekers in Australia? You can use GIVIT's keyword search on the 'what's needed' list to search for requests in which the recipients are refugees or asylum seekers.
West Welcome Wagon requested these items as part of our Back to School Appeal. Despite being well into term one, plenty of frontline organisations are still requesting urgent donations of items to help young people whose families are experiencing financial difficulties or other hardship.
Updated 14/12/2021: Our Ready to Learn Appeal is now the best way to help disadvantaged kids get what they need as they head back to school. This appeal is not just for kids - it runs year-round and helps people of any age experiencing hardship for any reason as they attempt to complete further study.
A chat with Multicultural Hub Canberra
What do a single mum of five, a homeless refugee from South Sudan, and a family who were robbed have in common? They've all been helped by GIVIT's donors via the tireless work of Multicultural Hub Canberra.