Herts Welcomes Refugees: Indie appeal in aid of Afghan families in Hertfordshire
Afghans fleeing the Taliban have been arriving in Hertfordshire to start a new life in the UK, among them families with children – and the Indie has launched an appeal for items to make them feel welcome.
According to the county council, people who fled Afghanistan for fear of reprisals for working with UK armed forces or the Asian country's legitimate government are being housed in three hotels in Hertfordshire while they wait for permanent homes.
To help these families who are in quarantine and await the next phase of their lives, processing the trauma and upheaval of the past few days and weeks and uncertain, concerned and possibly afraid of what the future holds, the Indie has teamed up with the charity Herts Welcomes Refugees (HWR).
HWR was set up six years ago as Herts Welcomes Syrian Families in response to the refugee crisis as a result of that country's civil war. In 2019 it changed its name to its current one.
There is a Bishop's Stortford branch and its co-ordinator is Mione Goldspink, of Avenue Road, a Liberal Democrat East Herts district councillor, retired GP and founder more than 30 years ago of the town's Company at Christmas initiative in aid of isolated elderly and vulnerable people, for which she was honoured at the inaugural Indies community awards in 2018.
Mione said: "I know that many, many people are feeling as appalled and distressed as I am at the terrible situation in Afghanistan. The desperate plight of those who have been trying to leave the country, in fear for their lives, is heart-breaking.
"Herts Welcomes Refugees is a registered charity which was set up in 2015, when people got together to help the Syrian refugees, and it has now been widened to help refugees from any country, if they are in need.
"At the moment the Afghan refugees are being housed in safe places whilst they are quarantining and waiting for local councils to find homes for them.
"Their immediate needs are being met by the Red Cross, and I hope to hear very soon how we in Bishop’s Stortford can help in practical ways."
The only articles needed at the moment are something for the families to do while they are quarantining and waiting:
- drawing and colouring books
- paper and felt-tip pens, pencils and crayons
- craft materials
- small games
- knitting needles and wool
Anyone who would like to donate items can drop them off at the Stortford Indie office at 12 North Street (CM23 2LQ).
HOW TO DONATE MONEY INSTEAD
If you would prefer to donate money to Herts Welcomes Refugees instead there are three ways to do this:
- Donate online via https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1016803&stop_mobi=yes
- Post or drop off a cheque, made payable to Herts Welcomes Refugees, at the Indie office at 12 North Street, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire CM23 2LQ
- Drop off cash at the Indie office
What does Herts Welcomes Refugees do?
HWR provides a range of assistance and support to refugees and asylum seekers across the county to complement that provided by councils and the Refugee Council's Hertfordshire Resettlement Project. Typically the support includes:
- Welcoming new families, usually with a small, local get-together
- Providing furniture and home furnishings for their allocated property, as requested – this includes a TV set with one year’s TV licence
- Operating a scheme to provide bicycles and safety equipment to adults or children
- Providing support to the British Refugee Council and local council case workers
- Organising events to bring the families closer to local individuals and community groups
- Recruiting volunteers to HWR’s Befriender/Language Support network, giving individuals the opportunity to practise their English in an informal setting and, where requested, providing additional educational support to children and young people. This network can also help with transport and other needs
- Giving talks to local groups and communities to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis and on the situation of refugees and asylum seekers coming to the UK
- Working with other Hertfordshire groups to improve co-ordination of support to refugees.
For more information visit the Herts Welcomes Refugees website at https://www.hwsf.org.uk/.
* A £75,000 online appeal called ‘Hertfordshire Helps Afghan Arrivals and Refugees’ has been set up on JustGiving by grant-giving body the Hertfordshire Community Foundation, on behalf of a wider local voluntary and public sector response co-ordinated by the county council. At 4.30pm on Thursday (Sept 2), exactly a week after its launch, it had raised £23,561 from 579 supporters.