Public’s ‘positive’ response to Afghan refugees impresses UK charities

Volunteers delivering donations for newly arrived families (Fahim Zazai/PA)
Volunteers delivering donations for newly arrived families (Fahim Zazai/PA)

Charities in the UK supporting refugees from Afghanistan have said that public support for the cause has been “really positive.”

The UK Government has pledged to take up to 20,000 Afghan refugees who were forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban Around 5,000 could arrive here within the first year.

Some will arrive with little in the way of possessions, but support is available thanks to donations to UK charities.

Fahim Zazai, 42, runs the Afghan Community and Welfare Centre in Walsall which helps Afghans and other migrant communities across the West Midlands.

“When refugees were arriving, we found out most of them had come with few belongings and just clothes on them, so we had to ask for donations from the public,” Mr Zazai told the PA news agency.

“We received lots of donations from different organisations and individuals. It has been really positive. We received more than we asked for and it’s growing.”

Mr Zazai came to the UK as an Afghan refugee 20 years ago, and said: “That is why I understand how the people arriving here are feeling and that is why I have to help.

“I don’t want to see other people in a similar situation to when I first came. I didn’t receive much support. I went through difficulties to start my life here in the UK.”

Fahim Zazai standing in front of a poster with details about the Afghan Community and Welfare Centre on it (Fahim Zazai/PA).

Despite generous donations, Mr Zazai said it has been difficult to offer help to everyone who needs it.

“It’s been really busy and still is busy,” he said.

“We can’t catch up with the number of messages we receive and phone calls. We receive messages from people back home asking us how we are able to help them.

“Most people want to leave and want information about how they can apply for settlement here in the UK.”

Vicki Offin, 44, is the head of fundraising for Upbeat Communities, a Christian charity which helps refugees rebuild their lives in the UK.

They have been giving welcome boxes to refugees and hosting a variety of different activities.

Ms Offin told PA: “That welcome box we give is like the first contact that we have introducing refugees to all the things we can help them with.

“The box contains things such as toiletries and pens and useful general bits and pieces.

“It is the opportunity to befriend someone and just to let them know that we are here and can support them, help them find community and be a friendly face and knock on the door.

“At the moment we’re still at the very early stages of things… getting to know people and understanding where their needs are so we can offer individual help.”

The organisation offers activities such as English classes and community integration, as well as helping people find temporary accommodation.

People have been so downtrodden by what they have experienced, and many have experienced trauma in their home countries or journeys, so we want to be able to look after people’s wellbeing,” said Ms Offin.

“This is a place where we can do that and empower them.”

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