Authors find novel way to help refugees


Jewish authors are taking part in an initiative to raise funds for refugee charities.

“Authors for Refugees” has brought together over 100 published writers who are offering prizes which readers can bid for online.

Judith Kerr, author of the Mog series and The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and Francesca Simon, creator of the Horrid Henry series, are participating, with other Jewish writers including Inbali Iserles, Keren David and Hillary Freeman.

Prizes include signed copies of books, script critiques and, for a few lucky bidders, the opportunity to have a character named after them in an upcoming book.

Fiona Dunbar, the author behind the initiative, said she had been inspired by a previous project aimed at helping typhoon victims in the Philippines.

“I’d been thinking a lot about the refugee situation, and thinking, ‘what can I do beyond the odd donation here and there?” she said.

Ms Dunbar has constantly updated the auction to add new lots, after being contacted by authors who were eager to join in.

“There’s so much desire to help, that when someone comes up with a good idea, there’s a ready-made reservoir of goodwill to plug into, and it took off really quickly”, said Antony Lishak.

Mr Lishak, who is offering signed copies of his books Henry's Boots and Stars, is a member of New North London Synagogue, where he has worked with the shul’s asylum seeker drop-in centre for many years.

Miriam Halahmy, the author of works including Hidden and The Emergency Zoo, is offering signed copies of four of her books to one winner.

“My latest book features two children from the Kindertransport”, she said.

“This initiative to put the money up front and bring children over to unite them with family members is so resonant for our community in this country.”

Money raised from the auction will be donated to three charities; Help Refugees, which assist refugees in camps throughout Europe: Safe Passage, which aims to unite unaccompanied children in Calais with family members in the UK, and the Islington Refugee Centre, which provides food, counsel and and legal advice to refugees.

“I live in Islington, so the Islington Refugee Centre is particularly close to my heart”, said Marianne Levy, author of the Ellie May series of children's books. She is offering bidders the opportunity to have a character named after them in the second book in her Accidental Superstar series.

“It’s really nice to be able to help on a local level as well as helping on a Europe-wide level,” she said.

The auction is due to close on Saturday October 1 at 8am.

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