Lizzie McConachie is a professional Dancer and Choreographer. She has danced for some of the world’s biggest artists including Demi Lovato, Dua Lipa and Camila Cabello and works frequently for TV and Theatre. Lizzie enjoys using her creative skills to help raise awareness and fundraise for Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees and is looking forward to helping support a family resettle in London!
What made you join a Community Sponsorship group?
OK, when I first tell people I’m part of a Community Sponsorship group for refugees I get a slightly bemused slash bewildered face staring back at me whilst I try and explain what it is. So, before we start, here it is in a nutshell:
Community Sponsorship gives power to local community groups to directly resettle and support a refugee family into the neighbourhood! We raise money, find accommodation and welcome a refugee family to the area. Once arrived, we then provide support to help them settle and become independent and secure.
Community Sponsorship means a family who may not get the chance can live in a safe home.
The next question I get asked is HOW and WHY I got involved?
I’m a professional dancer, and apart from recently becoming an NHS volunteer, I have never before been involved in volunteering. I didn’t really know this kind of group even existed before!
During the first lockdown, when all the hustle had died down and we were all making banana bread, I found myself with (finally) the time to read, relax and take stock of what is actually important in life. With the volume of busy London life turned down I was finally hearing the voices of the injustices occurring right in front of me, predominantly The Black Lives Matter movement. My eyes were finally open, and I’m sure many people can relate.
Two of the books I read in this time struck me in such a profound way I felt compelled to learn more and take action.
Book 1: AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins
An incredible book following the life of a woman and her son making the perilous trip from Mexico to USA after their lives were put at risk by a cartel.
Book 2: THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO by Christy Lefteri
A heart wrenching story of a Syrian couple trying to make the trip to safety after their home was destroyed and their child killed in the war.
Previous to reading these books I had been unaware of the sheer extent of the danger refugees face to survive. We hear about refugee camps. What we don’t necessarily hear though, is how although they are lifelines to many refugees, they can also be hugely dangerous places, in which refugees sit in limbo, unable to start a new life. We see people coming over in boats on the news, but we don’t necessarily hear how this was the only option to find safety for their children.
After reading these books and doing further research I couldn’t believe everyone wasn’t talking about this crisis all the time, or even mentioning it! I googled all the ways I could help with the Syrian Crisis and came across Community Sponsorship with RESET and was welcomed with open arms to Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees!
As a volunteer we have weekly meetings, and I am part of the Communications, Fundraising and Housing teams. This means I help with raising awareness and raising money to cover costs such as housing, support and essentials for a refugee family, and soon we will also be able to support the family in person when they arrive in London.
It may have nothing to do with my day job and I may have no prior experience, but I can assure you, whoever you are, you have something incredible to offer to help someone in need! Through the group I have met people from of walks of life and it’s incredible to be working together on something that is going to actively help change a family’s life, to provide a home, education for their children and a chance to fulfil their dreams.
Anyone can join or start a group! Find out more here.
If you would like to directly support the refugee family (who will be arriving very soon!) please go to our JUST GIVING page.