St Albans Syrian refugee campaign calls on residents to donate clothes and camping equipment

Syrian migrants arrive at the coast on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey, at the island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Syrian migrants arrive at the coast on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey, at the island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Armies of volunteers, galvanised by the image of a dead Syrian boy on a Turkish beach, have grouped together across the country in an effort to aid the thousands of refugees pouring out of the Middle East.

What is needed

Trainers/walking boots

Jumpers, fleeces, warm waterproof jackets (preferably hooded)

Blankets

Camping equipment: sleeping bags, camp mats, blow up beds, pumps

Tarpaulin, damp-proof membranes

Plastic storage boxes

Warm hats

Thermal socks and underwear (preferably new)

Playing cards, balls, games

Sanitary products

Contact Liz Needham on 01727 860177 to arrange donations and collections or visit the garage on between 12-5pm on September 12, 19 or 26.

And St Albans is no different. On Friday, a campaign to collect useful items of clothing, camping equipment, sanitary products and other things to help the people in refugee camps in Calais, was launched.

Today, thanks to the swift support of skilled volunteers across the city, it has a website, a garage in which to store donations, a social media manager, a graphic designer and a church minister.

Liz Needham, one of the founders of StAlbansForRefugees.org, is now urging members of the public to come forward and donate whatever they can.

Liz told the Herts Ad that she was stunned at how quickly the campaign had gained momentum.

She said: “It’s as if people were literally waiting for something like this in St Albans.

“There’s a group in Watford doing it and I offered to help. But I had people saying, ‘Why aren’t we doing this in St Albans?’ So I set up the Twitter and Facebook pages and had the website built.”

Before she knew it, Liz had scores of people contact her and offer to help in some way.

County Councillor Paul Zukowskyj, who represents Hatfield South, quickly pledged £500 of his locality budget toward the cost of renting a garage, which is now open for donations.

And at a meeting at the Farmers Boy pub in St Albans on Monday, 16 people inspired by the campaign’s launch – including the Rev Sally Jones - came together to discuss how best to move forward.

As well as an extensive social media campaign, which has seen Liz interviewed on local radio, the group is collecting donations with a view to travel to Calais in a few weeks.

Farhat Zia, who chairs the Hertfordshire Asian Woman Association and is involved in the campaign, said that she was trying to recruit people from the local community to help with the campaign.

She went on: “I am part of the Muslim community but this is not just a Muslim issue; this is an issue for humanity.

“It’s all about putting the word out there and getting all the donations we can get.”

To donate to StAlbansForRefugees, visit Garage Number 21, Thirlestane, St Albans, AL1 3PE, between 12 and 5pm each Saturday for the next three weeks, where one of the team will be happy to help.

For more information on the campaign, visit StAlbansForRefugees.org.

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