Fringe Box



Opinion: We Can All Help The Refugees – In Guildford Too

Published on: 30 Oct, 2015
Updated on: 2 Nov, 2015

By Caroline Reeves

syrian refugees

Syrian refugees

Many of us have seen and read the really harrowing accounts of life for refugees across Europe and while we wait for the government to be pro-active, communities across the country have been swinging into action. Guildford is no exception.

What started as a small one-off event at a local house, organised by two friends, quickly mushroomed into a colossal borough council-supported Surrey-wide donations day at a local hall.

Donations collected in Guildford for refugees in Calais.

Donations collected at Shaftesbury Hall in September for refugees in Calais.

People from across the county brought car loads of warm clothing, good quality shoes, blankets, tents and tinned food to support refugee relief in Calais and across Europe.  A GoFundMe page with a target of £500 is now at almost £2000. Proceeds are going to support charities working directly in the camps of Calais and Greece.

RefuTea 2

RefuTea – Homemade tea, cakes and a good chin-wag in return for a donation at Holy Trinity. Photo Mary Alexander

This was followed by RefuTEA, hosted by Guildford: People to People at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. On the morning of Saturday 26 September hundreds of people flooded through the church to be treated to tea and homemade cakes for a donation.

Many volunteers got stuck in with sorting tinned and dry food donations into over 250 individual ‘meal bags’ to be given to refugees in Calais. And any food that couldn’t be sent to Calais was donated to local homeless shelters and food banks.

As a result of the incredible support from the Guildford: People to People community, many other groups across Surrey and the UK have sprung up to support the refugee crisis and raise money to send to organisations in Calais.

The Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking has been supporting refugees directly through contacts in Calais with food parcels every two weeks, a group in Haslemere has collected hundreds of items for children in Kos, Greece, and a Farnham group are raising money to support Syrian refugees in the UK and across Europe.

Opinion Logo 2For more information and to get involved please see the Guildford: People to People group at or search for our Facebook group Guildford: People to People.

Guildford: People to People organiser Christina Manning said, “It has been incredible to be a part of something that bridges borders, not only from the UK to Europe but within our own community; seeing faith communities, mum’s groups, students and other local organisations come together for this greater cause has really inspired me.”

The next drop off day is Saturday November 28th. The drop off point is being provided by Guildford Borough Council and the hugely supportive officers at the Woking Road Depot. We are now much more experienced and know exactly what is needed.

Time has been spent sorting out all the donations, which has meant extended hours for volunteers both here and at the drop-off points in Slough and London. So we are being very specific in our requests, especially as winter will make warm clothes even more important.

Regular volunteer and driver Tom Doughty says “Please read the list of what we really need, and sort your donations where you can. It will make a massive difference to how quickly warm clothes and dry shoes can get dispatched to the folk before it gets really cold!”

Caroline Reeves is a borough councillor but is writing in a personal capacity.

Items required:

  • warm jackets, all sizes, ages and gender
  • strong shoes with a pair of socks tucked inside (shoes tied in pairs with a sticker saying the European size would make sorting even quicker).
  • sleeping bags
  • blankets
  • childrens’ winter clothes

Also needed are:

  • wooden pallets for packing the boxes at the warehouses, and building shelters.
  • cardboard boxes
  • strong parcel tape
  • thick felt tip pens

Donations will be received at Guildford Borough Council, Woking Road Depot, Woking Road, Guildford GU1 1QE (click here for map) from 10am to 4pm on Saturday November 28.

Volunteers are needed from 9am on Saturday and Sunday to help sorting, packing, car park marshals, van packing, etc.

See also: GBC website Our next step to help refugees.

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