Community rallies to the plight of refugees

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Lucy Lancashire: “After seeing the awful images on the news we decided to take a collection of clothes to the camp in Calais.

“We collected at the Rosedbud centre and we were overwhelmed at the amount we were given, people brought quality clothes and shoes and we also had about £400 in cash donated.

“The response has been phenomenal, it has been such an emotional response from people regardless of their political views, they can see this is a humanitarian crisis and we can’t just stand by and watch.

“We hope we will be able to distribute the clothes at the camp itself but we’re not sure if that will be possible so we might just have to take them to their depot.

“I think overall in this country we have reacted too slowly, we should have foreseen this and European leaders have not been cohesive enough.

“When we saw the pictures like most people we were shocked and saddened and I and James woke up the next morning and we still felt awful about it, and it was then that we decided we had to do something. Maybe it hit home more because we have got a young family ourselves.”

Lucy said herself and James had also set up a facebook page asking people for clothing donations but have since taken it down because they do not have the space or transportation to deal with the amount of clothing people were pledging to the cause.

While Lucy and James are already set to travel down to the camps, others on our patch have been equally spurred into action.

Sandy Chamberlain is co-ordinating a number of drop off points on behalf of Emmaus in Oxford, a charity which is organising its own aid deliveries to Calais.

Sandy has set up collection points in Stratford, Henley, Wilmcote and Upper and Lower Quinton and is asking for people to contribute outdoor shoes, non-perishable food, cooking equipment, waterproof coats, tents, sleeping bags, roll mats, torches, solar lights, kindling, water containers, sanitary towels, underwear, hygiene products and working bikes.

Emmaus is not looking for clothes or blankets and if you would like information on your nearest drop-off point email Sandy at sandychamberlain@hotmail.co.uk.

On Monday a meeting of the cabinet at Stratford District Council saw councillors agree on a four point approach to help ease the refugee crisis.

The council confirmed that they would act as a collection centre, they would use their resources to support government initiatives and would help those who felt they could accommodate refugees.

Councillors also discussed how vacant holiday accommodation could be used to house refugees and agreed to look into working with other councils.

Despite positive efforts being made there are calls for the council to commit to taking in refugee families, with an online petition calling on the council and Nadhim Zahawi MP to push for Stratford to take in 50 refugee families.

That petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/refugees-welcome-in-stratford-upon-avon has so far been signed by 48 people.

On Monday David Cameron said Britain would take in 20,000 refugees from along the Syrian border over the course of the parliament.

Since the Herald reported on the council’s plans on Monday many have taken to facebook to give their views on whether Stratford should be helping.

Though some are in favour of what Stratford District Council’s plans the majority of posts were not in favour of the town taking in refugees saying more should be done to help groups such as the homeless who are already suffering in Stratford.