Monday, 8 June 2009

Thousands show support for refugees through British Red Cross online campaign

British Red CrossImage via Wikipedia

Thousands of people have been logging-on to watch movie star Dougray Scott and change their online status in support of refugees ahead of the official launch today of the British Red Cross “Look Beyond the Label” campaign.

The Red Cross’ campaign, part of the annual Refugee Week (June 15 - 21), is the first time a charity has created an online movement to pledge support and tackle discrimination via online profiles.

The campaign is encouraging the public to look beyond the ‘refugee’ label, and promoting the positive contribution refugees make to life in the UK.

“Refugee Week always throws up some exciting issues, and Look Beyond the Label is a great way of highlighting the massive contribution those with refugee backgrounds make to life in the UK,” said Nick Scott-Flynn British Red Cross head of refugee services.

“By looking beyond the label we can begin to see the full range of skills, talents and contributions individuals have made, and are making, to society. “

In the run up to Refugee Week (15th-21st June), the Red Cross is asking people to pledge support to refugees by collectively changing their online status across all social networks, instant messenger and email to include the web address.

The address links-through to a dedicated website featuring videos, fronted by Desperate Housewives star Dougray Scott, highlighting the issue of identity and the need to look beyond the refugee label.

The page also features video case studies of refugees who have been helped by the Red Cross (to be activated at the beginning of Refugee Week on June 15) and a ‘social media toolkit’ of downloads for Facebook, Twitter, MSN, Bebo and Yahoo – as well as generic emails and blogs – to help supporters promote the campaign on their own profile sites.

“As an actor I’m aware of the importance of identity, something which refugees are denied,” said Scott.

“We must look beyond this label to the individuals - doctors, teachers, parents and friends.”
Dorothea Arndt, British Red Cross head of new media said:

“Following the success of our digital campaigns last year, we decided online and social media should be a key focus for ‘Look Beyond the Label’.

“Tying in Dougray’s profession with the issue of identity fitted perfectly with the ‘Look Beyond the Label’ concept, and the powerful stories in the videos really challenge some of the misconceptions people have about refugees in the UK.”

Aldijana Becirevic, 27, originally from Bosnia and now living in Nottingham, is one of those featured on

“How would I define myself? Well, I’m not going to say refugee because I think that’s a small part of who a person is, “ she said.

“Professionally I’m going to say solicitor but I’m also a daughter, a sister, a partner, a friend.”

The multi-media aspects of Look Beyond the Label will be supported with a poll of public attitudes towards refugees, seeking to debunk negative connotations around those who seek sanctuary in the UK, as well as Refugee Week events at Red Cross centres across the country.

Refugee Week will take place from 15 to 21 June. The week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrates the contribution of refugees in the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities. The British Red Cross is one of ten partner agencies involved.

For more information visit or

The British Red Cross teamed up with global creative media and technology agency LBI to create the film and innovative social media toolkit to make sharing the message and changing online profiles fun and impactful.

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