I recently got the opportunity to sit down with Libby Edwards and Stanley Parker, the two dedicated students who brought us The BlackHorn Refugee Project. Through collaborating with the student beloved restaurant, this organization raises money for the charity, Refugee Survival Trust. This Glasgow based charity is dedicated to alleviating the destitution experienced by asylum seekers in Scotland. Given that these asylum seekers are yet to attain refugee status, they are without doctors, the right to work and even a place to call home. What this charity does is give a lending hand in gaining access to these necessities. Although a small charity, it has done an extraordinary job in making an impact on these people’s lives. According to their 2017-2018 report, the charity was successful in giving out over 1,400 grants to support over 2,000 people.
It is this same passion for helping refugees that drove second year history student, Libby Edwards, to come up with the idea for The BlackHorn Refugee Project. Having followed the refugee crisis since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, Edwards wanted to find a way to play a role in refugee aid. Through collaborating with second year management student Stanley Parker, the duo came up with a creative way to make a difference.
The BlackHorn Refugee project brings aid to refugees through food. Edwards drew inspiration from her past experience working in the restaurant industry to come up with this simple yet unique approach. After scouring recipe books and organizing tasting sessions, the team added two options to the BlackHorn menu, with all contributions going directly to The Refugee Survival Trust. As pointed out by Parker, people are always going to contribute to the food industry. For that reason this industry is a great one to tap into, particularly for upholding a long-term contribution.
A large issue faced by asylum seekers is the need for transportation. Given the mere size of St Andrews, we rarely give a second thought to these barriers. If we are in need of medical help, we can simply walk over to our local hospital. If we have a flat viewing, we can get there in a maximum of twenty five to thirty minutes. For many asylum seekers based in Scotland, this is not the case. The BlackHorn Refugee Project contributes to the Refugee Survival Trust through providing the funds for unlimited bus passes for transportation. By contributing to a smaller charity, the BlackHorn Refugee Project makes a very direct impact on these lives.
A major element of success came from the duo’s ability to read into the wants and needs of our community. Through their Facebook page, they were able to communicate with the student body to find products we were missing in the St Andrews food scene. They created a variety of polls for potential product ideas to come up with two (vegan and vegetarian!) friendly options – the Rasa Wrap and the Falafel Burger. The Rasa Wrap includes hummus, chickpea falafels, fresh avocado and more. The name is dedicated to Refugee Action St Andrews, particularly for the society’s major role in bringing this project to life. As a token BlackHorn customer, I can honestly say it’s now my top wrap! Never would I have thought to stray away from the Sinatra wrap, but here I am. I am yet to try the falafel burger, but I already have a good feeling about it. It includes red onions, sriracha mayonnaise and served on a brioche bun. I truly felt good about myself when buying this wrap, which isn’t usually the case when I spend money eating out. I knew that 100% of the proceeds would be going towards helping someone in need. If one thing is for sure, it is that I will be making many more trips to BlackHorn in the future. It really is a win-win situation: You help a refugee by enjoying incredible food. It is almost to good to be true.
It is truly astounding how much their efforts have already made. From one launch event that lasted a mere five hours, the organization raised enough money to provide a refugee weekly food shopping for two and a half months. The possibilities are endless.
Can we expect any more from these clever students? Yes. Edwards and Stanley have their eyes set on more cafes and restaurants to collaborate with. This coming fall, they are planning to relaunch to “Food For Support.” Hopefully in the future we can contribute to refugee aid through a number of restaurants based in St Andrews.
My hat goes off to both Edwards and Stanley. We as students tend to feel invisible when it comes to the global refugee crisis, but their project shows us that contributing can be as easy as ordering lunch. What we have here is a case of think globally act locally, which fits very well with our little international town. For that reason this project just further reinforces this inner character.