'Very moving': Refugee donation volunteers hail public's generosity

Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Roy Emmett and council leader Cllr Jas Athwal with volunteers from Salvation Army Ilford

Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Roy Emmett and council leader Cllr Jas Athwal with volunteers from Ilford Salvation Army - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Volunteers at the new donation drop-off centre for refugees say they have been moved to tears by the generosity of Redbridge residents. 

On Monday afternoon (September 13), Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Roy Emmett and council leader Cllr Jas Athwal were shown around by volunteers from the Ilford Salvation Army, who staff the Redbridge Town Hall centre. 

Major Phil Howe said that there had been an immediate “groundswell of feeling that we have got to do something” when people saw images of refugees fleeing Afghanistan and said that the public response had been “very moving”. 

Nadine Puddle, volunteer co-ordinator for the Ilford Salvation Army, with Major Phil Howe

Nadine Puddle, volunteer co-ordinator for the Ilford Salvation Army, with Major Phil Howe - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Nadine Puddle, volunteer co-ordinator for the Ilford Salvation Army, said that the public response had been “brilliant”. 

“People had already bought things and people came up and asked, took the list and actually went off shopping and brought the items back. Much more than we expected for day one,” she said. 


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She said that some volunteers had teared up while receiving the generous donations from members of the public. 

They are requesting donations of good quality specific items, including pushchairs, baby baths, new baby bottles, working suitcases, headscarves, prayer mats and Qurans. 

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Nadine said that they particularly needed sterilising tablets. 

The centre is open for donations on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 4pm, having opened last Thursday, September 9.  

Council leader Jas Athwal looking at the donations made by the Redbridge public

Council leader Jas Athwal looking at donations made by Redbridge residents - Credit: Daniel Gayne

After being shown the amount of supplies that had been given on the first day, Cllr Athwal praised Redbridge residents. 

He told the Recorder: “The first day we put the notion out there people were ringing up, flooding us with donations. 

“It’s a wonderful way to welcome them (the refugees), especially after the hardship they’ve been through. Some of them arrived just with the clothes on their back, and for the residents to jump in is just amazing to see.” 

He said that local authorities were willing to support the new wave of refugees, but would need proper funding from the government. 

Donations will be taken to a distribution centre in Havering where they will be sorted and then distributed by London Plus to families across north east London. 

The centre will be open for six weeks before being reviewed. 

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