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By George Maskell, Sona Circle
Why is this day special?
March 19, 2021; is red nose day. What is red nose day? Good Question.
Back in 1988, Comic Relief (British charity) started a biennial celebration in which people wear round red plastic (plastic free from 2021) noses. This may seem like a strange idea for a charitable celebration, but in fact it is a brilliant marketing tool used to create a cheerful atmosphere around donating money.
When you hear the word charity, most people will envision an elderly woman holding a red bucket and asking for some spare change, or even a random phone call at work asking for you to sign up to donate every month. This is still a useful way to collect contributions, but it does not spur the average person to challenge themselves to raise money or alter their appearance to create awareness, but that is exactly what red nose day does!
The hallmark of red nose day is making people laugh and spreading awareness through being joyous. The notion of laughing to make money, does seem bizarre, but the causes that it is supporting are far from it. Throughout the years, Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion towards eradicating poverty, introducing education to all, providing clean water and sanitisation, along with several other causes.
Who benefits from the day?
Refugees make up a large percentage of the people who benefit from comic relief, and their aim is to stop more and more people from becoming refugees. This aim aligns with the core values that we have here at Sona Circle. Every day, we are committed to raising awareness for the struggle of refugees and are dedicated to finding them employment within the UK.
As part of our awareness initiatives, every year we hold SonaTalks; a TED-style event. At these events, volunteers as well as former refugees provide short talks and storied perspectives to the audience.
One theme at SonaTalks and others alike is the comical perspective on a tragic back-story. This has the benefit of keeping the audience engaged whilst providing autobiographical tragedies.
How can comedy help?
In the fashion of red nose day, and making people laugh to raise awareness, SonaTalk 2019 featured a stand-up routine performed by Abdul Tahhan. Tahhan migrated to the UK from Aleppo, Syria in 2013, and has since become a journalist, podcaster, and occasional comedian. He has a profound outlook on life and chooses to share it with people who will never know the struggles he has seen. As part of an article written for the Guardian, he notes;
“I have decided to become British, seeing as I already live and work here”, which he then follows up with “I even drink tea and complain about the weather. What else is there to it?”.
Rather than describing his experiences in bleak unforgiving stories, he reworks them into comical anecdotes, with relatable setups. Abdul manages to connect both himself and the audience through light-hearted jokes, leaving the audience laughing while further understanding and appreciating his past.
“I can laugh at myself, so does that make me more British?”
Tahhan has seen from the outside, what seems to make one British and embraced it. This is a big part of settling in a new country as a refugee, and making people feel welcome plays a key role. If we allow people to feel that they can merge the culture they have always known with the new culture around them, we can hope to integrate people into society with ease.
The world over, we know that laughter can bring a ray of sunshine to a gloomy day, and this red nose day we will bring that ray to as many people as we can.
What can you do?
If you’re feeling extra giving this red nose day, then you can head over to Sona Circle’s JustGiving page and donate to the cause. We are trying to raise £23,000 to help promote workplace equality; by creating employment opportunities for refugees. Your support is helping us to reach amazing goals.