Sunderland welfare workers overwhelmed by donations for refugees

From left, volunteers Tafazzal Hussain, Ahmed Salah, Kojoe Otoo, Kathy Haq and Michelle Wall with donations at Sunderland Bangladeshi Centre.
From left, volunteers Tafazzal Hussain, Ahmed Salah, Kojoe Otoo, Kathy Haq and Michelle Wall with donations at Sunderland Bangladeshi Centre.
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Welfare workers say they have been “overwhelmed” by the generosity of Wearsiders as they rally round in aid of refugees.

The Sunderland branch of the North East Solidarity with Calais Refugees has been inundated with items to donate to the camps in France.

We have seen real generosity, people have been supportive and everybody wants to help and see what they can do.

Tafazzal Hussain

Four vans filled with boxes are due to leave for the port later this month thanks to the efforts of the group across the region.

Tomorrow, volunteers will help sort through goods before and after a walk through Sunderland city centre to the bank of the River Wear, where a pedal drop will take place and speeches made.

Tafazzal Hussain, who is the Sunderland representative on the committee, and vice-chairman of the management committee of Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre, which is a drop-off point, said: “We have seen real generosity, people have been supportive and everybody wants to help and see what they can do.

“It has been overwhelming.

“One lady was crying when she came with a big donation. She had written a card for them to open because she wanted them to get a message to the children.

“We have hundreds of boxes.”

A marquee and tents abandoned after Leeds Festival and collected by Sunderland volunteers are also among the packages.

Kathy Haq is secretary of City of Sunderland Sanctuary, which is working alongside Unite Community Sunderland, its People’s Assembly and Penshaw Community Clothing Bank to organise Saturday’s event. She said: “I think it’s fantastic how people have responded I and I think it’s all been since that boy was found on the beach.

“No one would wish that on any children.”

Tomorrow’s day of action will see the walkers gather at the centre in Toward Road at 1pm.

The team behind it believe hundreds could turn out to support it.

The group expects to head to the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, then down Fawcett Street and down to the side of the river close to the mural beneath the Wearmouth Bridge.

Volunteers are needed from 11.30am to sort through the collections and then after the vigil.

The walk and vigil is part of a national day of action called by Stand up to Racism, BARAC, Stop the War Coalition, Migrant Rights Network War on Want, Peoples’ Assembly Against Austerity, Movement Against Xenophobia, Unite Against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism and Black Out London.

l Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre can be called on (0191) 564 0888.