Sas Mackie, University College School teacher and debut children’s book author and illustrator, Crowdfunded £2,800 to travel to European refugee camps and volunteer in order to research her new book, Refuge.

The money she raised allowed her to self-publish a 36-page colour picture book aimed at those under seven-years-old. The book helps children to understand some of the experiences a refugee child will have been exposed to on their journey to Europe.

A personal motivation for the project was Sas’ own experience of having delivered projects in Syria and Jordan while working for the Visual Arts Department at the British Council.

She says: “I can’t believe that the gentle people I worked with in Syria and Jordan in 2007 have been subjected to the horrors of the civil war over the past five years. I felt the need to do something to help on a very basic human level, but I didn’t know what exactly.

“I was helping some of my A-level art and design students to make some beautiful drawings of refugees from images that they found in newspapers and it suddenly clicked that these pictures could convey an important message to younger children in the form of a children’s picture book.”

Funds raised from the sale of the book will be donated to the charity Help Refugees, started by Dawn O'Porter, Josie Naughton and Lliana Bird by launching a social media campaign using the hashtag #helpcalais.

Help Refugees supports local groups, charities and volunteers who are at the front lines, carrying out life changing work in difficult circumstances. Nico Stevens, head of projects at Help Refugees says: "We are thrilled that Sas has written and illustrated this wonderful book, and took the time to visit some of our projects on the ground.

“Sas has connected with some of the people that Help Refugees is helping and brought their stories to light. The book looks so wonderful."

Emily Bowyer, a volunteer at Piraeus in Greece who let Sas help with shower duty, and who is featured in the penultimate illustration of the book says: "The book is super important because this crisis is going to affect generations to come, not just the people who are around now.

“For young children to understand the situation children from other parts of the world have grown up in, and the journeys that they have faced is part of the big picture. It will start to help people to understand why this crisis is happening, that it's not okay, it's not going away, and that everyone should be treated as human. Everyone is affected by this crisis, children, the old, the rich the poor; it's not discriminatory."

Sas’ aim is for Refuge to be read and discussed at home with parents and as a starting point for projects in primary schools. She tested the book with students in a range of age groups at UCS pre-prep in Hampstead, with the help of her colleagues. The feedback helped shape and transform the book and its potential uses. A page of suggested activities for teachers and parents to use to explore the subject of the migrant crisis is included at the back of the book.

An Arabic translation under each line of text so that the book can also be used as a language learning tool for Arab speaking migrants and there are also plans to release further editions of the book in German, French, Norwegian and Swedish.

Refuge – A Book to Help Children Understand How it Might Feel to Seek Refuge is published by Candelabra. Details: