20 Jul 17

On Saturday 8 July, Boxpark Croydon hosted a very special and very unique event – Vibes2Unite. The atmosphere was buzzing in the way you’d expect the BoxBar to be on a Saturday night but the meaning behind this event made it all the more special. Vibes2Unite was set up as fundraiser for the people who are staying at the Veria Refugee Camp in Greece. We caught up with the brains behind this operation – Susie Rundle – to talk about her experiences and how you can get involved.

How did you first get involved with the Veria Refugee Camp?

In April 2017, I volunteered with Bridge2 and spent 10 nights at Veria Refugee Camp in Thessaloniki, Greece. Veria camp currently houses around 250 ‘vulnerable’ refugees; including, new borns, children, mentally and physically disabled people and the elderly, from both Syria and Iraq.

Can you tell us more about Bridge2?

Bridge2 is a small not-for-profit organisation run by a mother and son duo, Sarah & Sam.

Mama Sarah (as she’s known to the residents) runs Bridge2’s presence on the camp with devoted precision. They manage the supermarket, the clothing and shoe stores and organise activities for children, including access to pedal bikes.  Everything Bridge2 has authority over is managed fairly, with money being spent wisely on necessities only and with the residents in mind 100% of the time.

Because of Mama Sarah the residents have access to nutritious food. They have access to clothes and shoes and can get involved in activities onsite, which all function in order to give the residents some kind of life, with basic human rights and dignity whilst living in the camp. If it wasn’t for Bridge2 Veria Refugee Camp would be hopeless, like many of the other camps in Greece.

What did you learn from your time at Veria?

My brief stay at Veria Refugee Camp taught me an incredible amount. Most profoundly, it taught me how strong the human spirit really is. During my time, residents both young and old showed me so much kindness in so many ways. It almost made me forget the painful realities of their experiences, but every so often I was reminded.

How did it feel to return home?

Since my return, I have felt a deep sense of duty to continue to support Bridge2 in all the vital work they do at Veria. I’m fortunate enough to live the life I do and where possible, I’d like to make a positive contribution to the lives of others not as fortunate.

Is that how Vibes2Unite came about?

Absolutely. With this in mind, and having a huge love for 90’s RnB, Hip Hop and UK Garage, I decided to put on an event called ‘Vibes2Unite’ to raise money for Veria Camp. Boxpark Croydon were keen to host the night and its cause, which also promoted unity in the community.

With Boxpark confirmed, there was no  hesitation to contact DJ Swiss (So Solid). As part of a group who propelled UK Garage firmly into the mainstream charts, which was hugely significant and who have undeniably shaped the future of the genre; there wouldn’t have been anyone else more fitting to support the night.

DJ Swiss showed his support from the offset and brought on TimelessDJ who also showed firm devotion to the cause. Chris, a very dear friend, came forth as my third DJ in the same capacity, through unrivalled support and commitment to Veria Camp and I’m deeply thankful to all for their dedication.

What did you make of the event at Boxpark Croydon?

Vibes2Unite certainly lived up to its name and brought people together through the love of music; connecting and uniting across cultures, backgrounds and faiths. The vibes were one of unity, respect and love and we came together and raised a huge amount!

What can people do to support Bridge2 and Veria?

Bridge2 are currently in desperate need of donations for food and shoes in particular, so our £1,514.00 raised will make a real difference to the lives of the refugees at Veria Camp. If anyone wishes to make further donations please do so online via Bridge2.

To keep up to date with the works of Bridge2 at Veria Camp please visit: Sam James on Instagram or Bridge2Refugees on Facebook.

For further information on my experience at the camp you can check out my Instagram.

I’m deeply thankful to everyone who supported, in any capacity. Unity is strength and together great things really can be achieved.