SHOW OF GENEROSITY: Outpouring of support for Afghan refugees
Refugee charities in Newcastle have praised the city’s huge show of generosity to help people fleeing the crisis in Afghanistan.
Donations and offers to provide help have flooded in from kind locals over recent weeks to help Afghans who will soon arrive in the North East.
North East Solidarity and Teaching (NEST), a student-led volunteer project based at Newcastle University Students Union, is co-ordinating a central collection hub to put together care packs for asylum seekers coming into the city, who may arrive with little to no possessions.
Working with groups like West End Refugee Service (WERS) and the Action Foundation, organisers say they are initially in need of donations of men’s clothing and toiletries to create 300 care packages.
Bridget Stratford, project coordinator at NEST, said: “It’s fantastic to see the huge amount of support out there, and there is a real need for this.
“We have 100 packs so far, so we are still looking for donations. These packs can make a huge difference to people arriving in an unfamiliar place, with very little in terms of personal belongings”.
For now, the charities are asking the public to hold back on donations for Afghan families who will be resettled in Newcastle, as it is not yet known how many will be arriving and exactly what support will be needed for them.
As well as asking for donations of items and money, WERS has called on city residents to write to their MP to demand that all Afghans currently seeking asylum here are given immediate protection.
The charity is also opposing the new Nationality and Borders Bill, which could criminalise asylum seekers fleeing Afghanistan who do arrive in the UK through official channels.
WERS director Hannah Barnes said: “It’s wonderful that so many people are donating practical items like clothing and toiletries, and offering to help in all sorts of ways. NEST are doing an incredible job. We are also keen to support local communities to help in different ways that will have a longer term impact.
“The kindness, compassion and generosity that we are seeing across the North East points towards a society that stands for something so much better than what this government is proposing in terms of the treatment of refugees, under its new Nationality and Borders Bill.
“We are also encouraging people to make regular donations to local charities, whose work continues year round and provides crucial support in helping people rebuild their lives here, which of course takes time and resources.
“We want to encourage people who are showing this care to have their voice heard, and speak up for what they believe in. The new Borders Bill proposes to criminalise Afghan refugees who have been unable to fly out of Kabul amidst the chaos and who have been forced to make treacherous journeys here by other means.
“Kabul shows us just how impossible it can be to flee to safety when chaos and terror ensue.”
What items can I donate to help?
Charities in Newcastle are currently asking for new or good quality second hand men’s clothing, primarily small and medium sizes:
- Long sleeved tops
- Jeans trousers
- Waterproof coats
People are also being asked to donate new and unopened toiletries:
- Shower gel
- Hair brushes
- Spray Deodorant
You can also donate money directly to WERS’ hardship fund at this link.
Where can I drop off my donations?
Donations can be dropped off at the central hub at the King’s Gate Building at Newcastle University.
Action Foundation are also taking donations of clothes and toiletries at the Castlegate building in Melbourne Street.
West End Refugee Service are collecting toiletries at their building on St Philip’s Close, in Arthur’s Hill.
Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter
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