#RefugeesWelcome – how online activism can create meaningful change

The rising number of people from war-torn Syria attempting to reach Europe, some tragically dying in the process, has elicited an overwhelming amount of activism from regular folks in the UK. While the government largely mis-read the situation and the changing current of public opinion (the Prime Minister stating that taking in more refugees in this time of crisis “would not be the answer”), people began tweeting, signing online petitions, arranging demonstrations, blogging and even offering spaces in their homes to refugees.

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The online buzz was electric, and this evening, it played no small part in the Prime Minister bowing to the pressure and vowing to accept more Syrian refugees into Britain.

Sceptics have argued that online activism is largely “empty” and “meaningless”, dismissing re-tweets and Facebook shares as pointless clicks, arguing that these actions are not often followed up with donations or deeper research. However, the power of the hashtag #RefugeesWelcome, along with related hashtags and online petitions, shows that when citizens join their online voices together to share a message that they believe in, this can play a pivotal part in creating real change.

See how you can get involved here.

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