Council inundated with offers of help for vulnerable young refugees

© EU/ECHO/Peter Biro

Posted on: 25 October 2016

UPDATE: Wednesday 9 November, 2016

Due to an overwhelming response from members of the public to this appeal, sufficient quantities of clothing and footwear, and other items, have now been donated and we have a stock for any future arrivals.   Thank you for your support.

The above statement updates the previous appeal story posted on the 25 October.  That story read:

Devon County Council says it has been being inundated with offers of help and support from local people in response to the arrival of a number of young people from the refugee camp in Calais.

The Council has received offers of support including language skills and translation, medical assistance from retired and current health professionals, and offering sports and other activities for the young people, as well as many contacts simply asking how people can best help.

All offers are being passed on to the relevant organisations supporting the young people.

But with many of the young people arriving at the Home Office-arranged temporary accommodation in North Devon with little more than the clothes on their back – some even wearing flip flops – local Councils are appealing for much-needed items of clothing.

On their needs list are: Shoes or trainers (sizes 7-11); jeans; socks and underwear; sweat shirts; jumpers; T shirts or shirts, pyjamas, coats or waterproof clothing, hats and gloves. Other items are also needed, including rucksacks or daysacks or hold-alls, and drink bottles.

Great Torrington Town Council has stepped forward to co-ordinate the appeal and is setting up a collection point in the Plough Arts Centre in the centre of the town. They are also co-ordinating volunteers to sort the items before they are sent on.

cllr-margaret-brown-great-torrington-town-councilTown Councillor and Mayor, Margaret Brown said:

“Great Torrington has always been a strong and welcoming community. There have been lots of offers of support from local people who want to support any young people arriving from Calais.

“In response, we have decided to help co-ordinate this. The Plough Arts Centre has willingly offered its space to serve as a drop off point for anyone wishing to donate the much-needed items of clothing and other equipment. The Centre is open 7 days a week. We’re setting this up from today.”

cllr-james-mcinnesCouncillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for vulnerable children said:

“The overwhelmingly positive response to this situation, from local people, has been heart-warming.

“Although the county is actually only providing a temporary safe haven for some of the most vulnerable young people coming from the camp in Calais and we don’t expect any to be with us very long, many have arrived with just the clothes on their backs.

“As well as a safe environment, warm food and the obvious immediate medical attention which they are receiving, they do need some basic things like a clean change of clothing and the response from the town council and the people of Torrington is therefore most welcome.”

The County Council will continue to work with organisations supporting young people at the Home Office facility to review any other needs emerging from young people presenting at the centre and will co-ordinate all offers of community help over the coming days and weeks.

But the County Council is also calling for greater understanding of the situation and is urging everyone to respect the privacy of young people at the temporary facility.

“This facility has understandably received a lot of media attention,” added Cllr McInnes.

“I would like to take the opportunity just to remind everyone that these are very vulnerable young people and we have a duty to protect them and keep them safe from unwanted intrusion and respect their privacy just as we would any child or young people in our care.”

9 comments on “Council inundated with offers of help for vulnerable young refugees

  1. ali says:

    What are the ages of the children? Difficult to provide clothing so on without an idea.

    • Hi Ali. We’ve needed to update this page today after speaking to the Town Council. The public have been so generous in their donations, that they now have a sufficient quantity of clothing and footwear. There is still a need for toiletries though, so any items of those would be gratefully received, thanks. With regards age, our understanding is that the young people are under 18 years old. Thanks for asking.

  2. Carol Wakeling says:

    I’m a semi retired teacher with experience of teaching English as a foreign language and a TEFL qualification. I also have a CRB check. I would be happy to help in any way, from sorting clothing etc. to teaching.

  3. Amanda Hughes-Horan says:

    I’m originally from Devon – now living in the US and am so very heartened to hear of all the support being given to the Calais refugees. Sadly, I just don’t think the people where I live would be near as forthcoming. It’s so wonderful to see people opening their doors to these people who have gone through so much.

    With my kind regards for the wonderful work you’re doing. Wish I were nearer to help! Amanda Hughes-Horan

  4. Nigel Penfold says:

    I have a couple of years experience in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I was a Diplomatic Spouse for a while and the Foreign Office arranged training for me. I have ( somewhere!) a certificate for this. I appreciate the young people are probably only here for a short while but if you need someone to help teach them English, please contact me.

  5. Lesley Smith says:

    Is there a link to south Devon? I’m there and have lots to offer

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