Help Refugees, the grass roots organisation working across Greece, the Greek islands, Calais, Paris, Turkey, Lebanon and beyond, launches a brand new campaign to highlight the contribution refugees and their families make to modern society: Refugenes.

Refugenes launches with the online release of a brand new short film in which prominent figures in popular culture discuss their own refugee origins, and how these roots helped to shape them as people. Among the stars contributing to the video are Rita Ora, Jamie Cullum, Ben Elton and Bella & Esther Freud, each declaring: “I’ve got refugenes”.

They are joined in the film by Help Refugees co-founder Lliana Bird, Noisettes frontwoman Shingai Shoniwa, singer Yasmin Kadi, architect Richard Rogers, Rabbi Harry Jacobi, social entrepreneur Elisa Sednaoui-Dellal and model and blogger Naomi Shimada.

Alongside the main film other notable figures to tell their Refugenes stories include Neil Gaiman, Shappi Khorsandi and Hassan Akkad – the driving force behind acclaimed BBC documentary Exodus. You can see all their full stories, and share yours at:

These remarkable figures have all risen to the top of their fields, but each has a personal story or family history involving displacement from lands that were no longer safe due to war or tyranny, the very fate that befell 8.6 million people worldwide in 2015 alone.

Part of this project will also be to reach out to the wider public and encourage them to share their stories using #Refugenes in order to fully tell the story of how refugees have contributed to the society we live in today.