WE cannot stand back and allow this travesty to go on any longer.
That’s the call of the Portsmouth region as communities pour out their support to the thousands of refugees struggling to cope in their desperate attempt to seek a new life.
Scores of concerned families moved by harrowing pictures highlighting the desperate struggle to leave war-torn countries, and the photograph released this week of a toddler washed up dead on a Turkish beach, have decided enough is enough.
Residents have loaded up their cars with huge donation parcels and gone out to deliver them to campers on the Calais border as the refuge crisis deepens.
And donation drop-off points and awareness events are running across the area in a bid to spread the message that more help must be given.
Yazen Atia, 28, of Southsea, and his friends from Mexican takeaway Al Burrito in Albert Road set to catch the Dover to Calais ferry in the early hours of this morning with a huge stash of food, tents and clothes.
I had a few late nights reading everything and I saw my friends in London were doing something and I thought, “I’ve had enough and I’ll go on my own if I have to.”Yazen Atia, 28, of Southsea
Yazen said he was spurred on to take action because he was growing concerned the government wasn’t helping and his parents are from Iraq.
He said: ‘It was a growing idea everyone had in their minds. I had a few late nights reading everything and I saw my friends in London were doing something and I thought, “I’ve had enough and I’ll go on my own if I have to.”
‘I was starting to lose a bit of faith in humanity.
‘Someone needs to help.
‘As human beings, as a race, we all need to help each other and that’s really important.’
In Gosport, a tattoo parlour has been transformed into a donation centre after its owner made an appeal for help.
Dozens of people have flocked to Indelible Ink, in Anns Hill Road, to handover shoeboxes and carrier bags full of essential supplies – everything from sleeping bags and food, to tents and toiletries.
Store owner Gez Bradley, 30, launched the appeal on his businesses’ Facebook page after his partner, Hannah Green came up with the idea.
Gez said: ‘It has just blown up over Facebook. We have had hundreds of people sharing it. When I got to the shop in the morning there were already people queuing up outside it waiting to donate. I couldn’t believe it.’
The idea came to Hannah, 31, yesterday evening while she was thinking of how she and her friends could help the refugees.
She said the shocking image of the drowned child washed up on a beach in Turkey had left her heartbroken and prompted her to take action.
‘That image was just so unbearably sad,’ said the mother-of-one.
‘Everyone was touched by this. That little boy looked like he was sleeping peacefully but obviously he wasn’t – he was dead.’
Hannah and Gez will be working alongside some of their friends who will be travelling up to Calais and Greece to deliver the much-needed supplies on September 20.
They are appealing for anyone who could provide items – be it food, water or toiletries – to visit the tattoo parlour.
Speaking about the Syrian refugee crisis, Hannah added: ‘What these people must be running from must just be so horrendous that that is the only option for them.
‘You don’t put your child on a boat on its way to sea, never knowing if you will see them again, just to get on the benefits system. These people are desperate for our help.’
WHERE TO DONATE
North End Baptist Church, in Powerscourt Road, Portsmouth. Donations can be received from Monday, but check the Facebook group ‘Portsmouth Drop Off Point for Calais’ for more details of items needed and times. The closing date for donations is September 28.
On Sunday, a collection point is being set up at Southsea Common by the memorial from 11am. See the Facebook group
‘#Commonparents #fillthecommon #nomoredrownings’ for a list of essential items needed. Items not on the list will not be accepted.
Al Burrito in Albert Road is accepting donations of food to assist those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. A further collection point has been set up at 65 Castle Road, in Southsea. This will be for tinned foods, water, blanket, shelter and toiletries
11 Albany Road, Southsea, PO5 2AB. Donations can be received today and tomorrow. Boxes in the garden are for donated items if no-one answers the door.
Mama’s Baps, in Forton Road, Gosport is welcoming a range of donated goods, from toiletries and mens and women’s clothes to shoes and non-perishable food.
People can bring donations to the shop between 9am and 2pm today and anytime in the week up until 2.30pm.
If you are unable to take donations to the store, then it will arrange to have them picked up.