Monday, 23 October 2017

Gifts flood in for refugees

A CAMPAIGN to provide aid in response to the refugee crisis in Europe has attracted widespread support

A CAMPAIGN to provide aid in response to the refugee crisis in Europe has attracted widespread support.

People in the Henley area have been donating goods and money to help those in need and there will be a peaceful gathering in the town centre at noon tomorrow (Saturday) in support of a national day of action called ?Refugees Welcome Here?.

It comes after David Cameron announced this week that Britain will accept up to 20,000 refugees from Syria over the next five years.

Businessman Tom Clark, who appealed for donations in last week?s Henley Standard has been inundated with gifts.

The hallway and garage at his home in Crowsley Way, Sonning Common, was full after about 30 deliveries. One woman and her friends arrived on Monday evening with six cars full of donations. Author Amanda Jennings, from Binfield Heath, appealed for donations from friends and received 15 sleeping bags, 11 tents, a bag of pots and pans and eight blow-up mattresses.

Mr Clark, 26, said: ?People are seeing it as a humanitarian crisis. Politics is difficult but this brings it down to a more local level and people feel they can get involved.

?Every night we?re getting about 10 people turning up. A lot of people are saying ?thank you for helping me to get involved?, which is very humbling.?

He said he had also been swamped with emails and his phone calls.

Mr Clark, who runs Rowgear on the Hernes Estate, off Greys Road, Henley, is to travel to the migrant camps in Calais with a van full of goods later this month.

He already has enough goods to fill the van, including sleeping bags, tents, tarpaulins, men?s clothing and shoes, pots and pans and toiletries. He has still to pick up donations collected by rowers at Leander Club on Saturday.

Mr Clark has organised his mercy mission through the charity CalAid and will travel to France with his brother Arthur, 24, and girlfriend Zaneta Lichnova, 23.

On arrival they will liaise with Le Vestiaire Des Migrants, which helps distribute donations, and spend the day in ?The Jungle?.

Mrs Jennings said: ?The support was incredible from the off ? I wasn?t shocked, probably heartened actually that so many people were starting to feel the same way.

?It feels quite insignificant but if you imagine there are lots of people in villages and towns doing the same thing, collectively a lot can be achieved. I just couldn?t help but feel that it was history repeating itself and we haven?t learned anything from the Second World War when people were driven from their homes.

?I felt we were being dealt this damaging rhetoric by the media that these people were economic migrants. I didn?t see that. I kept putting myself and my family in their shoes and if we were fleeing the horrors they were I would hope people would look after me and my family.?

Vivienne Lee, who runs the Chocolate Cafe in Thames Side, is collecting garments and blankets and plans to take them to the port when she has enough.

People can also donate baby slings and carriers at the café at the d:two centre in Upper Market Place, Henley, between 10am and 2pm each day.

Roger Cole, pastor of Henley Baptist Church, which is based at the centre, said: ?Our church has always been a welcoming place and we want to embrace and help people who are struggling.

?We?re talking about how we can be helping if people can?t get across to Sonning Common. Because we?re a centre and people can bring stuff in, we feel we want to link in with groups rather than setting up something ourselves so we?re looking at who we can partner with.?

Tomorrow?s day of action has been organised by Nicola Rogers, of North End.

She said: ?I feel strongly that we should be showing the people who are in plight, who have nowhere else to go, who are fleeing in fear of their lives, that we would welcome them into Britain.

?I want to get across the sentiment that it?s genuine hospitality and a humanitarian response.?

To contact Mr Clark, call 07931 775055 or email tom@rowgear.com

The migrant camp in Calais

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