Together with Ben & Jerry's, the IRC is hitting the road. We're taking our message to the streets of the UK with a simple message: everyone needs a safe place to call home.
We arrived in Newcastle at 10am. Winter may be coming but it hadn’t arrived today, the Northern city treated us to a fine sunny morning.
Our trusty ice cream van pulled up on Bath Lane on the edge of Chinatown. It’s a thoroughfare for students and the morning featured lots of friendly and positive conversations, as well as ice cream, of course!
Local MP Chi Onwurah came down to support the campaign and discuss the issue with her constituents. She told us she was keen to know what else the people of Newcastle could do to get involved, the issue is very close to her heart as she was a child refugee herself.
After a very productive morning we scooted over to Newcastle University where essentially, everything went crazy. Passionate & sweet toothed students have been a real feature of the tour and Newcastle did not let us down. Hundreds of students showed up; during the four hours we were there the queue was always at a minimum of 50 people. Our determined scoopers were on maximum overdrive all afternoon to make sure no-one was disappointed, though some students may have missed the start of their lessons. (Looking at you, geographers)
We were lucky to have local refugee group NEST with us, whose volunteers provide English lessons for refugees in the city.
As we were packing up, the local citizens were prepping for Friday night and we were rueful to be missing out, but a week of touring the UK takes it out of you!
It’s been a great privilege to take the #Together4Refugees message all over the UK, from the beaches of Brighton to the banks of the Tyne. We received thousands of new additions to our campaign, all people willing to do their bit for refugees. Hearing the enthusiasm, compassion and concern people from all walks of life had for vulnerable refugees has been really inspiring. Same time again next week?
Cardiff gave us the hottest day of the tour so far! Warm, sunny and perfect for ice cream.
Our first location, University Hall, was bustling with students on the way to classes. Luckily, Welsh bus drivers are incredibly cool and delayed the buses so students could chat to us, grab ice cream and still make it to their lectures.
At lunchtime we rocked up to a student halls called Tolby Court. We parked on a thoroughfare between the residential halls and lecture halls, ensuring solid traffic all afternoon. We had a constant line of freshers (and a few sheepish security guards) all day. As in Brighton, word of mouth combined with Snapchat, resulting in a great turnout.
Students sunned themselves in the deck chairs throughout the day, our Ben and Jerry’s scoopers got the music going and we had a beach party on our hands! (Sort of) One fresher was a little too relaxed and wondered off without any of her belongings. Perhaps she wanted an excuse to come back?
There was big enthusiasm that they we were sending customizable messages to their representatives, rather than being a number on a petition.
More conversations and ice-cream await us tomorrow, the last day of the #Together4Refugees tour is taking us all the way up north, to Newcastle!
We arrived in Brighton and set up right on the seafront, in the face of a fairly stiff sea breeze. It was a great day for flying kites, rather than eating ice cream, but as we set up the deckchairs, the sun made an appearance too.
Throughout the morning, a parade of joggers, dog walkers and skateboarders stopped by, joined by the staff from the nearby seafront hotels.
People agreed with us that vulnerable refugees need help from the EU to find safety. Using our Ipads they signed up to tell this to their EU representatives. We were impressed with the passion of the Brightonians we met.
Just after 2pm we left the beach behind and headed to Brighton University, arriving at the Engineering building just as lectures were finishing.
The student union had tweeted we were coming, meaning a wave of sweet-toothed students descended upon us as we set up. In just over an hour, we talked to more people than we could count, at which point it was all over as suddenly as it began. Engineers are a busy bunch!
We stopped by the library and a university café, before finishing up at a halls of residence. Again, the savvy students knew we were coming and a long queue formed. As evening approached and ice cream was dispensed, there was a very relaxed atmosphere. Some were enjoying ice cream in their dressing gowns, some were kicking back in our deckchairs. Our final customers for the day included included one chap in a toga (students never change), one in a tutu and one inventive person bringing along a jam donut to top with ice cream for his pudding.
As the sun set, we put down our scoopers and Ipads and packed everything away, ready for tomorrow in Cardiff.
On a sunny yet nippy Tuesday we hit selfie-central, Shoreditch. This time we brought our deck chairs so people could enjoy some autumnal rays with their ice cream, which seemed to go down well.
We had a great spot with lots of people passing through - shoppers, hungry construction workers and some French tourists who were pleasantly surprised to find they could sign up to take action. We also had a visit from our friends at Asylum Aid.
At one point the queue got so long two lovely security guys had to come out to manage it, which is an excellent problem to have and the security team seemed pleased with their ice-cream reward. Local office workers seemed to be spreading the news to their colleagues and #Together4Refugees went (in a very local sense) viral.
In the evening we set up stall at the cosy Strongroom bar on Curtain road, got talking to the patrons and signed up more than one Tuesday reveler. The barstaff had been forewarned and were beginning their shift tasting the new 'Home Sweet Honeycomb' flavour. Having polled all the customers, we took our ipads and ice cream out onto Curtain road to chat to to the commuter crowd. Finally we had some Ben and Jerry's superfans show up specifically to try the new flavour!
After a very busy day in central London we're looking forward to taking in the sea air of Brighton tomorrow. See you there...
The tour kicked off on a fairly brisk Monday morning at the community centre where we were talking to commuters, council workers and chocolate lovers about #Together4Refugees. Though, not many people were braving an ice-cream breakfast.
We then hot-footed it to Homerton train station, to spend the afternoon sharing scoops with the locals and signing them up to take action. For the evening session we packed up the van and headed over to Home Road in Battersea. Lots of students, families and the odd tourist stopping to grab some ice cream and discuss how to help the most vulnerable refugees find safety.
Bring on Tuesday!
Tour Dates & Times
Monday, October 2: London
9.30am - 1.30pm
The Wally Foster Community Centre, Marsh Hill, Homerton Road, E9 5QB
5pm - 7pm
Home Road, Battersea, SW11 3EZ
Tuesday, October 3: London
10am - 2pm
Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E1 6QR
5pm - 8pm
Strongroom Bar, Curtain Road, EC2A 3SQ
Wednesday, October 4: Brighton
10am - 3pm
Bedford Square, Brighton, BN1 2PN
Thursday, October 5: Cardiff
Cardiff University Hall
10am - 1pm
Talybont Court (Main Campus)
1pm - 5pm
Ty-Gwyn Road, Pen-y-lan, Cardiff, CF23 5YB (White House Road!)
Friday, October 6: Newcastle
All day event
Bath Lane, Newcastle, NE4 5SP
Find out more about why Ben & Jerry's and the IRC are Together for Refugees.