Elmbridge CAN is a charity run by volunteers and the community that aim to create a welcoming place for refugees and to help them settle in Elmbridge, a borough located in Surrey.
The day began with a lively interactive show delivered by another charity, ‘Clowns Without Borders’. They performed for over twenty children and their parents from countries including Ukraine and Afghanistan. The clowns wore bright, vibrant colours and created laughter and smiles on the children’s faces. I was told that, despite being a UK registered charity, this was the first time that the clowns had run a workshop in the UK. Up until the Christmas party they had been spreading smiles around the world since 2014. The charity are proud to say that ‘So far, we have shared laughter and play with over 75,000 people in 15 Countries’. This includes refugee camps in countries such as Bangladesh where an estimated 700,000 Rohingya people have fled; to children who have fled the war in Syria living as refugees in Turkey and in Nepal where, in April, a massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the country affecting more than 850,000 people.
Following the show was a Christmas party hosted by Elmbridge CAN, where there was food, some provided by Ukrainian refugees, arts and crafts for children as well as games for them to play and Father Christmas giving out presents by the Christmas tree to the excited children. One of the highlights of the party was when some of the Ukrainian guests performed traditional Ukrainian songs in traditional Ukrainian clothes.