Francisco is a Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London, vice president of the UK Association for Astronomy Education and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Keen populariser of natural sciences with extensive experience as a planetarium producer/presenter, lecturer, author and broadcaster.
What made you join a Community Sponsorship Group?
I am a regular visitor to Sands Films in Rotherhithe, a small community run film studio that, among other things, shows film screenings. They partner with Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees for fundraising events and I receive all their email notifications. One of the events was a screening of the award-winning film documentary 'For Sama'. The realism and humanity in desperate need that I saw in that film made a deep impact.
I met fellow volunteer Jo Weir there and applied to join BWR, after finding out about the amazing work they were doing.
How do you feel about the refugee situation? And how much did you know about the situation before joining?
For a number of years, I have been concerned with the refugee crisis. I volunteered with CalAid, coordinating local donations of clothes, tents, etc for the Calais Camps back in 2016. I went several times to their warehouse in West London to manually sort out clothes.
Due to my time there I learnt a fair bit about the Refugee situation and the dire situation many of them are in but joining BWR has been enlightening and has allowed me to meet people with different views and experiences of the situation.
What would be your one tip to a refugee family starting their new life in the UK?
To be patient. I am a sort of migrant from Mexico and I had a small taste of xenophobia, nothing serious but noticeable. The cultural shock for refugees is hard. They must know that they will not be alone, that BWR and local communities are here for them. They need to be very communicative and raise any issues as soon as they appear.
What is your background? And how will you use your skills to progress the work of Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees?
I am an engineer and an astronomer. In the last year I have concentrated on education at all levels. I have worked on fundraising with the group, doing lectures on science, awareness of the environment, origin of our planet, origin and history of humankind, searching for a meaning to our existence and the desperate need to unite humanity and preserve paradise Earth. I hope I can continue to use my expertise to further the progression of our fundraising.
If you could tell people one thing about Community Sponsorship what would it be?
Once again patience, and inspiration, perseverance, and solidarity. It is hard work with lovely potential rewards waiting.