Supporting local refugee-led initiatives and grassroots organisations in Hong Kong…
The ongoing pandemic has thrown a wrench in the day-to-day operations of many charities in Hong Kong, but several of these organisations press on with their missions to help the city’s most vulnerable. For this month’s Sassy Supports, we’re shining a spotlight on one such charity — Grassroots Future, which is working to uplift and empower refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong.
Between running activities online and appealing for financial support and in-kind donations, the charity continues to do incredible work to help Hong Kong refugees through the fifth wave. Ahead, Grassroots Future Founder and CEO Tegan Smyth shares why the charity was founded, what it does to support the city’s refugee community, and how we can get involved.
Read more: COVID-19 Charity Initiatives To Support Now
Tell us about Grassroots Future. What is it you do?
Grassroots Future was started as a response to the lack of capacity building and resources among refugee-led initiatives in Hong Kong. We run educational, well-being and community outreach programmes in partnership with refugee-led organisations such as Refugee Union, Hong Kong’s first and only refugee-led society.
Through well-being programmes, education, community outreach and children’s education, we build capacity of the local refugee-led initiatives and grassroots organisations and co-create events and projects with them. By doing so, we hope to provide access to resources and platforms for undiscovered talents to develop their skills to become more self-reliant.
We became a registered charity in September 2020 but this was after years of community organising under a food and culture project called Table of Two Cities since 2016. TOTC is still an ongoing project within our organisation; we organise community events around Hong Kong to amplify refugee and asylum seeker talents, in particular through the medium of food and storytelling.
What issues are Grassroots Future currently tackling?
Currently, we’re mobilising a lot of our energy to help the refugee community as due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of our day-to-day operations are affected and we are also unable to organise fundraising events for the foreseeable future. We are still running activities online for our stakeholders and coordinating regular financial support and in-kind donations to the community.
The fifth wave has been particularly devastating, with nearly three-quarters of Hong Kong’s refugees struggling to put food on the table due to bouts of panic-buying and interruptions in welfare assistance from social welfare providers. Grassroots Future is directing all our support to help refugee-led partners such as Refugee Union who are unable to raise funds directly themselves as they are unable to open or operate a bank account.
In less trying times, we run community events that promote refugee and asylum seeker narratives and challenge perceptions of the community. We believe strongly that refugee voices should be amplified and it is through events that we can begin to have more serious conversations about the circumstances both refugees and asylum seekers are living under in Hong Kong.
Typically, we run cooking workshops or events around food since this is a powerful means to connect people that transcends language and culture. We regularly help refugee artists and performers with their events so they can show their work to a wider audience. We also run an annual poetry competition for refugee writers, where the top three poets have previously been published in the well-respected literary journal “Cha: An Asian Literary Journal”.
How can we get involved?
We have an appeal for support for immediate COVID-19 emergency relief, called the Year of the Tiger Appeal. We also have a fundraiser to help support the backbone of our operations and long-term programmes.
We are on the lookout for volunteers to lend their skills with social media, content creation, fundraising and more. You can reach us at [email protected] or check Time Auction for any listings from our company.
Read more: Sassy Supports – Time Auction
Images courtesy of Grassroots Future.