As the nightmare that is 2020 draws to an end, our impulse to try to forget the past months and move on is understandable. But, it’s important to take a look back and reflect – it wasn’t all doom and gloom!
The UK, like the rest of the world, has faced unimaginable challenges this year; the Covid pandemic causing unemployment and economic insecurity, and the ongoing and seemingly fruitless Brexit negotiations, there’s been little news to cheer us up. Subsequently, Hands Up has met one of its toughest year’s; unable to hold physical events and unable to ask our fundraisers to do the same. We have been forced to quickly establish new ways of working and become increasingly reliant on the generosity and kindness of our supporters, despite their own struggles and despondencies.
We haven’t been let down. Despite months of uncertainty, through a combination of hard work and adaptability, we reached the light at the end of the tunnel. A light that beamed ever brighter in the lead-up to Christmas! With 15-year-old Anna’s lockdown edition performance, a successful virtual carol concert, and the generosity of our festive raffle buyers, there have been constant reminders that creativity, compassion, and determination still exist in abundance. So far, and against all odds, Hands Up has raised nearly £420,000 over the year, more than £80,000 from Singing for Syrians alone. In hindsight, there was no alternative outcome. According to the World Food Programme, 9.3 million Syrians – 46% of the population – are now facing food shortages. The increasing vulnerability of families, having exhausted all existing coping mechanisms, is now further exacerbated by coronavirus, which has pushed another 1.4 million people into food insecurity since the summer.
Given the colossal need for aid, our fundraising efforts might appear to only scratch the surface of ensuring Syrians aren’t neglected, but we mustn’t underestimate what this money will do and the lives it can change. Together, and during this pandemic, we have enabled the Syrian refugee children we support to continue education from their makeshift camps, and our medical staff to carry on with their lifesaving work in northeast Syria. So, as we approach the New Year, apprehensive of what’s to come, and perhaps questioning the extent of our impact, we can take comfort in knowing that with enough hope and perseverance, positive change can be made.
Now looking ahead, what will 2021 bring? For Syria, despite all the suffering it has endured, tougher years are undoubtedly still to come. The effects of Covid will sadly linger for years, and the needs arising from the pandemic will continue to rise. As we reach the tenth anniversary of Syria’s conflict, and the UK simultaneously leaves the EU, our country must continue to play its part as a major humanitarian donor to Syrians in need. (The EU and its Member States are currently the leading donors of international aid to those affected by war in Syria.) It is imperative we don’t take our eye off the hardship going on in Syria and its neighbouring countries. For Hands Up, we are ready and willing to work hard to keep Syrians at the forefront of people’s minds, even if our thoughts may be preoccupied, and even if the media outlets don’t.