By Jacob Warn with Tanya Murphy
Comic Relief Across Borders Learning Coordinators
Two years ago, Comic Relief launched Across Borders, a £7 million funding programme supporting 19 civil society organisations and partnerships working to defend the rights of people on the move. This route-based programme brings together organisations from North Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe up to the UK to catalyse collaboration across the common routes to safety that refugees and asylum seekers often take.
Since 2020, it’s safe to say that the organisations supported by Across Borders haven’t had it easy. They have launched and maintained a myriad of projects to meet basic needs, promote inclusion, and fight for human rights on all political and social levels.
But on top of this, they have endured through some of the greatest challenges of our century, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and ensuing refugee crisis. In the last 100 days, alongside and in tandem with Comic Relief’s response, once again many of these organisations have pivoted their work in response to the new humanitarian emergency in Ukraine.
Admirably, the Across Borders cohort have built on long-standing partnerships and deep mutual trust to face down this seemingly endless cycle of crisis after crisis. And with impressive resolve and unwavering hope, they’re doing even more than just responding to these acute, frontline needs.
Over the past months, this cohort has shown how collaboration across borders goes beyond relief work. Collaboration is also a powerful vehicle to build empathy and raise awareness amongst the general public amid an increasingly divided political space.
To this end, members of the Across Borders cohort have participated in a new podcast series set for release on 20th June to mark World Refugee Day. This 6-part series takes us, the listener, on a journey all the way from Egypt to England. Along the way, we meet many of these organisations and, more importantly, we hear from asylum seekers and refugees who are themselves on this long and difficult route to safety.
To create this special podcast season of collaborative story-telling, Comic Relief is working with Jaz O’Hara, presenter and producer of The Asylum Speakers podcast(opens in new window). Jaz undertook this journey from Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece, to Ukraine, France and finally reaching the UK. In each episode, she explores a new theme, from leaving home to arriving in a final country of destination. Through human stories that get behind the headlines, we come to understand the answers to important questions such as: What brings someone to flee their home? What is a pushback? What really makes for a ‘safe’ country? What is it like to have to find oneself in a new place, city, language and culture?
In a world that seems always in a state of crisis, it is so easy to lose sight of the people affected by the events that shake our world. This new podcast is an invitation not to let that happen. Join us in marking World Refugee Day 2022 on June 20th with the release of The Asylum Speakers podcast: The Journey. Available on Spotify(opens in new window), Apple Podcasts(opens in new window), TuneIn (opens in new window)and all other major streaming platforms.
Join the Launch Party!
On 20th June at 17:30 BST, the Across Borders cohort and The Worldwide Tribe are hosting a celebratory podcast launch party. Register now(opens in new window) to join the event online and meet the team behind the podcast. All are welcome!