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Swap for Syria aims to use trades to help refugees

PUBLISHED: 09:31 18 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:31 18 September 2014

Charlie Yaxley makes the first swap with author Neil Gaiman

Charlie Yaxley makes the first swap with author Neil Gaiman

Archant

It might seem like a playground game but a charity worker is hoping that swapsies can help improve the lives of Syrian refugees.

Charlie Yaxley set up Swap for Syria with the idea that a series of trades can change a simple key into a high worth value item which he can then auction off for charity on World Refugee Day in June.

The 25-year-old, who lives in St Katharines Dock and works for the UN Refugee Agency UK, said: “Working in social media for the last year and a half means that I have come to grips with social media and I’ve seen the power it can have.

“I sit there everyday on Twitter looking at the Syria hashtag and the pictures come up of the children involved in the conflict and the destruction and I decided that I needed to do something to help.”

After being inspired by One Red Paperclip, a similar project carried out in Canada where a paperclip was swapped for a house in 11 trades, he decided to give the idea a go for himself.

And he managed to persuade bestselling author Neil Gaiman to carry out the first swap after plucking up the courage to ask him to sign a Guardian article about a visit to Jordan when he came to UNHCR’s UK office.

Charlie is hopeful that his project will have a big impact.

“When I launched it I was a bit tentative because you don’t know how it is going to go and it could fall flat on its face,” he said.

“But with Neil getting involved and the positive responses I have had, it has been fantastic.

“Even people who couldn’t make a swap because it wasn’t practical have got in touch and that has given me a bit of energy and inspiration that I can make it.”

For more information about the project, visit swapforsyria.org

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