Families offer rooms to refugees after Ilford charity sets up scheme

PUBLISHED: 12:23 11 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:39 16 September 2015

Rita Chadha, executive director of RAMFEL, has been overwhelmed with donations to support refugees

Rita Chadha, executive director of RAMFEL, has been overwhelmed with donations to support refugees


Five families are getting ready to welcome refugees into their homes after the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (Ramfel) set-up up a hosting scheme.

RAMFEL said it had been inundated with offers of help since pictures showing the body of a Syrian toddler washed up on a Greek beach were published.

More than 50 people attended an emergency meeting organised by the Ilford-based charity last week where it was decided a spare room scheme would be launched for destitute families.

Guests would be those whose application for legal refugee status has reached a deadlock and who are in urgent need of accommodation.

The agreement would respect each party’s lifestyle preferences and the guest would not pay any rent and stay for a minimum of one month.

John Leseve, from Wickham Bishops, Essex, travelled 45 minutes by train to attend the meeting at the Cardinal Heenan Centre, High Road, Ilford.

He said: “We moved into a big house and our children have left home, this seems to be the logical thing to do.”

Gary Staight, a school governor, said: “I have got a house with a spare bedroom and I was hoping someone from Syria coming over could stay. I would have to look at the practicalities and talk to my wife.

“My school has children increasingly from that part of the world and I am thinking why not?”

Rita Chadha, the executive director of Ramfel, said: “There is an issue here and now. It is not just about the Syrian crisis but also what goes on in Calais and the refugee crisis that already exists.”

On Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets in central London and marched to Parliament Square urging the government to accept more refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

Cllr Bob Littlewood, (Lab, Seven Kings) also attended the meeting and called on Redbridge Council to step-in.

Leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal said: “As a council, we are keen to do our part by accepting our responsibility and moral duty to help these suffering people.

“It is not enough to simply want to help, helping requires the government to support councils with funding and infrastructure.”

Ramfel is holding another meeting on September 19, from 2pm to 4pm at the Cardinal Heenan Centre.

If you are interested in helping, email or call 0208 478 4513.

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