A mountain of donations piled up outside a synagogue in Hertfordshire following reports that Afghan refugees are being held by the Home Office in hotels for weeks on end without shoes, spare clothes, money or access to healthcare.
Last week Priti Patel, announcing plans to relocate thousands of Afghan refugees to the UK, promised “everything possible to provide support” to ensure they could “integrate and thrive”.
Yet the current approach by the Home Office has been described as a “complete breakdown” of child protection measures that has breached its statutory responsibilities.
In response,Bushey synagogue put a call out for donations and has been inundated by generous contributions.
This is an emergency collection for Afghan refugee families filling up the car park of Bushey Synagogue.— Amos Schonfield ? (@AJSchonfield) August 22, 2021
The UK is always ready to welcome refugees. Don't let our government tell you otherwise.#RefugeesWelcome #TogetherWithRefugees pic.twitter.com/PWWXrfGF5C
Rabbi Elchonon Feldman told the BBC that he expected a few things to be brought in, but donations had exceeded “anything we could have predicted” and showed the call for help had “reached the hearts of our local community”.
He says people have donated new items for men, women and children, including basics necessities such as warm clothing and toiletries, but also things like toys and sweets.
The Jewish community “recognise that our grandparents came into this country as refugees and all we’re trying to do is pay it back forward” and show “gratitude” to the UK by “giving to those who need it now”, Rabbi Feldman says.
He adds that he when he visited some Afghan refugees yesterday, he told them that “one day they will be finding that their children will be giving forward to refugees in the next generation as well”.
The donations will be distributed through a number of channels, he says, including charities, and he urged anyone with links to established organisations to get in touch.
I've just seen a video of a synagogue in the heart of Jewish Hertfordshire whose entire car park is completely jam packed full of donations for incoming Afghani refugees. If that doesn't warm your heart on a horrible wet Sunday in August I'm not sure what would. @Sebbys_Corner pic.twitter.com/TH5MPV8P9Y— Adam Langleben (@adamlangleben) August 22, 2021