Monday, 29 November 2021

Afghan appeal volunteers in plea for storage space

Afghan appeal volunteers in plea for storage space

TWO women collecting donations for refugees from Afghanistan are in desperate need of more storage space.

Emma Clark Lam and Sam Jonkers have been appealing for support since the crisis in the country caused by American and Britain forces leaving and the Taliban taking control.

The Government has promised to accept 20,000 people fleeing from Afghanistan.

The women have received hundreds of donations, including clothes, shoes, sanitary wear and mobile phones.

But they would like a business to offer them unused storage space to allow more donations to be received and sorted.

Mrs Clark Lam, a freelance writer who lives in Paradise Road, Henley, said: “It has been absolutely brilliant. Lots of people have been very generous and found wonderful items for the refugees.

“I’m not surprised. When people really engage with what’s going on in these countries and understand how hard it is for them, they tend to be empathetic.

“We are getting to the point where we have to say to people we can’t take anymore, which is awful.

“We’ve not hit pause because there are certain items that we still really need but there are others where we have asked people to delay giving them to us. We would much rather have a big storage space and be able to take things as they are offered to us. We are having to be cautious and it is all because the response has been almost overwhelming.”

Mrs Clark Lam is to hold a coffee morning at her house today (Friday) from 10am to 1pm. There will be about 20 people attending to sort through as many donations as possible.

She said: “I have lots of donations sitting in random places in my house and it would take me hours to sort through it all by myself, so I had the idea of dragging all my friends here. Everyone is so enthusiastic about it. As well as sorting all the items, we have to make sure they are appropriate for Muslim women.

“It is just an example of how the ladies of Henley have come together to help. We would welcome anyone who wants to sign up as a volunteer to support refugees in Reading.”

Mrs Jonkers, from Lower Assendon, is the regional lead for the Care4Calais refugee crisis charity for the Thames Valley and also owns Jonkers Rare Books in Hart Street with her husband Christiaan.

She said: “We have had a really good reaction. Henley is a great community and a lot of people have asked how they can help and get involved. We are sorting through everything we got in the first batch so we can see where the greatest need is. I’ve been able to set up a sorting group with various people from the town and surrounding villages.

“The things that we desperately need that we didn’t get many of are jogging bottoms — nwe really need lots of those. We also need ladies’ leggings and a lot more mobile phones. An easy way to support us is to donate £25, which buys two or three pairs of leggings, but people don’t feel as involved if they do it like that.”

For an up-to-date list of required donations or to offer storage space, email Reading@Care4Calais.org

Oxfordshire County Council has said it is unable to accept any more donations due to the volume of items already received.

Council leader Liz Leffman said: “The response has been tremendous and heartwarming. I really can’t thank enough those who have donated. Their generosity has made a big difference to our guests.

“Should we at any stage require further donations we will let the public know.”

The council has pledged to offer support to refugees when they are resettled. Although homes will be provided by South Oxfordshire District Council, the county council will be helping with social care and education.

Cllr Leffman said: “At the moment, refugees are quarantining. As is the case throughout the country, they will then have temporary accommodation before moving into permanent new homes with the assistance of our district councils.

“We don’t want to reveal the locations at which refugees are being homed. They have been through a traumatic experience and they are now in an entirely new country.

“That will take a long time to sink in and they need to adjust and we need to give them the time, space and peace to do so.”

Reading Borough Council has pledged to provide homes and support for 10 refugee families.

Council leader Jason Brock said: “This is the right thing to do due to the scale of the humanitarian crisis and we must do everything we can to help.

“We are immensely proud of our City of Sanctuary status and have experience of welcoming those seeking asylum to our town.

“We want those fleeing violence and persecution to feel safe and secure in our town and are committed to welcoming and integrating refugees into our communities and our culture.”

The Reading Refugee Support Group is also no longer accepting donations of clothes after being “inundated” and due to a lack of storage.

Donations of money, laptops and phones are being accepted along with offers of volunteers to help with translation and accommodation. If you can help, email volunteer@rrsg.org.uk

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