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Looking back on World Refugee Day

See how resources have been used throughout history to help those most in need
19 June 2020

This World Refugee Day is “in the midst of dramatic social change”. We spend every day looking forwards and how we can help each other; how we can assist those most in need and ensure protection for those most vulnerable.

It’s also warming to look back to other times where adversity may have been at times blatant and overwhelming, and see what people may have done to try and help those in need. LSBU, or as it was then known Borough Polytechnic, proceeded to run courses to train refugees.

In 1939, the Czech Refugee Trust wrote to Borough Polytechnic and asked to help the refugees learn valuable skills, and in this instance, we helped to train in welding.

According to our 1940 annual report: “Welding - In close co-operation with the Government Trust Fund for Czech Refugees a full-time course in both autogenous and electric welding was held for 76 Czech refugee students. The course was much appreciated by the students and the authorities.”

In our exam registers (which list students and their marks for each course) there are several classes in the Engineering Department in 1939-40, which have a note on them to say that results were sent to the Czech Refugee Trust.

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In another instance, the World Union OSE worked in conjunction with the Poly to run courses for Jewish refugees, and in particular, dentists. Dental Mechanics courses allowed the refugee dentists to be permitted to work here in the UK and use their vital skills.

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They were also approached by the Council of Austrians in Great Britain to run training courses.

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It’s interesting to look back and see how people still look out for others - human to human. We cannot probably fully comprehend how difficult these times must be for the world’s refugees, and so we must work together to make an inclusive global community for each and every person.

Read more about World Refugee Day.