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  • Joe Sims

From small acorns do y’all oak trees grow...

Hello you wonderful people,

This week is National Refugee Week and the theme this year is “you, me and those that came before” - an invitation to explore the lives of refugees – and those who have welcomed them – throughout the generations. 

“People escaping war and persecution have been welcomed by communities in the UK for hundreds of years, and their stories and contributions are all around us. From the Jewish refugees of the 1930s to people fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s, Kosovans in the 1990s to those arriving today; they are part of who we all are.” (

Our nomination this week is for a young woman who is trying to make her way in Britain alongside her family and who needs some simple things to be able to be part of the community around her. Thank you to Becky from the wonderful Citizens of the World Choir who we supported 2 years ago, for her nomination below.

As always we are so grateful for all of you and your generosity. Have a wonderful week.

Dear 500 Reasons team,

I'm Becky and I'm the Musical Director of the Citizens of the World Choir, a choir set up for refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and friends in 2017 by Lord Roger Roberts and myself in response to the refugee crisis. 

Right at the beginning, you gave us some money for the choir which paid for two rehearsals (thank you!). We have now secured Arts Council funding for our rehearsals but this is for some individual help. 

I want to ask for help for one of our individual choir members, please. 

She is 27 and from Nigeria and had a torrid time of it there. Her family left when she was 18 and all moved over here. She had a really tough time in the country and came over to join them and then had an equally awful time over here. Despite her parents and brothers being here, she is not automatically allowed to be here, even though she has made an asylum claim and she was detained in a detention centre, several times, an experience that she found very traumatic. She said, "I only thought criminals and thieves were detained, not someone like me, what have I done?".

It's heartbreaking to hear her story. She is such a lovely person, her love and gentleness shine through and she is a valued member of our choir. She just wants to work, to be able to support herself and live with her family, all of whom are lawfully here, particularly in a country like the UK which she says has better human rights and women's rights than Nigeria, but has been stopped in her tracks by the appaling UK asylum system (side note, we appeared on the BBC news recently as part of the Lift The Ban campaign, which is about this very issue, you can watch the video here:

She trained as a medical microbiologist and would like to become a biomedical scientist and a lecturer and help women get into science, particularly minority women. 

She has not been allowed to work for the last three years and has no money. I would like the £500 to help her buy a second-hand smartphone so that she can be part of the choir WA groups which contain important information about our gigs and locations etc. Without one she has struggled, which has been quite an eye-opener for our management team as we had not realised how dis-abling not having a smartphone was, even to a group like ours. How much we all rely on our tech.... we simply don't have the money to buy her one, all our grant money is specifically allocated for rehearsals and gigs etc. With the rest of the money so she can have some money to buy clothes and essentials which she has not been able to do for 3 years. 

I realise to some this might not sound like such a big deal, but I know this will transform her life. We are a family and I want to help one of my family members. Thank you so much. 

With love,


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