A Kurdish refugee woman from the Syrian town of Kobani washes dishes at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province February 2, 2015. The Syrian Kurdish militia that drove Islamic State militants from Kobani with the help of U.S.-led air strikes said on Monday the radical Islamist group may now open new fronts against it in northeastern Syria. Redur Xelil, spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia, said Islamic State forces were collapsing around Kobani, a town at the border with Turkey that became a focal point for the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State in Syria. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR4NXW5

UK charity Help Refugees and creative collective Glimpse have teamed up to help refugees this Christmas.
Image: REUTERS/Umit Bektas
22 Nov 2017
Rosamond Hutt Formative Content

’Tis the season to be jolly. However, the prospect of stuff we don’t need piling up under the Christmas tree can leave us feeling decidedly glum.

But there’s a shop that offers an antidote to all this consumerist guilt, promising customers they can “leave with nothing, and feel great”.

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UK charity Help Refugees and creative collective Glimpse have teamed up to open Choose Love, billed as the world’s first shop where you can buy real gifts for refugees.

The shop in London’s Soho will also be a space to learn about the refugee crisis while doing something practical to help, with proceeds going to support the work of Help Refugees in Europe and the Middle East.

Image: Glimpse

The gifts are themed around the different stages of a refugee’s journey: “arrival, camp and the future”. The range includes medical equipment, blankets, socks, babygros, sanitary towels and mobile phone credit, and each item will be accompanied by information on why it was chosen for sale.

Record numbers of refugees

At the end of 2016, an unprecedented 65.6 million people worldwide were uprooted from their homes by conflict and persecution – an increase of 300,000 from the previous year, according to the UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report.

Meanwhile, the number of refugees has topped 22.5 million, the highest since the aftermath of the Second World War.

While the flows of people crossing the Mediterranean to Europe since 2015 have captured headlines, the vast majority of refugees remain in poor countries.

Image: REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

The Global Trends report finds that developing regions host 84% of the world’s refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate.

Josie Naughton, CEO of Help Refugees, said: “It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have a bed, a blanket and a roof over our heads. For thousands of refugees this winter, these basic human needs are completely out of reach.

“This shop is all about one simple idea: that we should all Choose Love this Christmas and help those in need.”

For those unable to visit the pop-up shop, an online version is set to open shortly.