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Six simple ways to do your bit and help refugees if you live in Spain

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Six simple ways to do your bit and help refugees if you live in Spain
A Spanish Red Cross volunteer comforts a refugee after the death of his friend in at Tarifa's harbour. Photo: Marcos Moreno /AFP.
17:08 CEST+02:00
While Spain faces pressure to take a bigger share of the hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving at Europe's borders, The Local takes a look at ways that individuals can make a difference.

Provide accommodation


Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP.

Cities across Spain are in the process of setting up a register so that residents that volunteer to put up refugees in their homes. Barcelona was first to announce the scheme, swiftly followed by Madrid and a dozen other cities. No clear guidelines have yet been drawn up but the scheme should be in place within weeks so if you are keen to give up your spare room for a very good cause ask your local council. 

Volunteer


A Spanish Red Cross volunteer comforts a refugee after the death of his friend in at Tarifa's harbour. Photo: Marcos Moreno /AFP.

One of the big challenges of arriving in a new country is inevitably the language. Various organizations offer services to help refugees navigate jumping through the daily hoops of legal documents, work applications, healthcare systems and more, like the Service of Translators and Interpreters (SETI) in Madrid. 

SETI is recruits volunteers who can translate Spanish for refugees for various legal documents and other everyday tasks.

If you have other skills to offer, or just some free time to help out groups working with migrants, then there are lots of opprtunities. For example, the Bienvenidos Refugiados movement is also looking for volunteers to help them research further ways to help refugees and join a team to help direct those interested in getting involved.

Other groups are looking for drivers to help migrant families get around if they have to make a journey from one part of the country to another. 

Donate money


Photo: Daniel Roland/AFP.

There are many non-profit organisations that are involved in various aspects of the influx of refugees, from rescuing people on the Mediterranean, to giving medical treatment to those who arrive to providing resources to those who are able to stay. 

One of the main agencies is the United Nations Refugee Agency, known as ACNUR in Spain. You can choose to make a one-time donation or regular donations over a certain period of time.

But there are also lots of smaller charities to choose from.

Donate new or used items
 
Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP.
 
Groups like Spain Solidarity for Calais Refugees and CalAid organize drop-off points around Europe to bring donations to refugee hotspots.   
 
The most important items as the weather starts to get colder are clothing like jackets, woolly hats, shoes, socks, as well as blankets, but people regularly post a list of the essentials on the group's Facebook page.
 
Sign a petition or support a campaign
 
Photo: STR/AFP.

If you are feeling like you want to do something more political, consider some of the petitions currently circulating to help refugees. 

The Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees (CEAR) launched a petition with the hashtag #UErfanos to eliminate the need for a transit visa for people to enter from countries in conflict and implement safer ways for people to travel to the European Union, among other things.

Get on social media


Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP.

New groups and movements to help refugees are being formed all the time and the best way to keep up to date with the latest information is to follow charity and community groups on the social media.

To start with join the Bienvenidos Refugiados - Spain group on Facebook where you will find information about neighbourhood groups as well as national movements.

‎On Twitter, messages posted with #BienvenidosRefugiados‬ will also keep you informed. 

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