Image above: West London Welcome hangs out the welcome flags as Afghan refugees arrive
Afghan refugees who managed to get out of Afghanistan as the Taliban captured Kabul have begun arriving in west London after completing their quarantine in Heathrow hotels.
Refugee charity West London Welcome, who greeted them as they arrived on Saturday tweeted:
“It’s a privilege to be welcoming newly-arriving Afghan refugees into our community in West London this afternoon. We’re greeting them with lots of treats, information in Farsi/Dari/Pashto, and smiles.
Image above: West London Welcome greets Afghan refugees
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi was one of those who volunteered to help the 200 or so refugees, including 70 children, who were met with welcome bags with hearts drawn on them.
“Can’t say where we are because the right wing papers find out, so the far right come, upset everyone and nick the biscuits” she wrote.
West London is an area where the Home Office houses refugees temporarily in hotels while they wait for the next stage of the settlement process.
West London Welcome supports refugees, from anywhere, with food, clothing, friendship and advice. They have just moved into new premises, having been housed in a series of temporary offices themselves.
“Settling in involved eating delish food together, taking English classes, getting advice, running the foodbank, playing games, setting up kids area, tending to our flowers… but most of all loving being together again with old friends and new” they wrote, just a couple of days before the new group of refugees arrived.
Images above: Tweet by comedian Shappi Khorsandi; Shappi with volunteers
The charity launched an appeal a couple of weeks ago and have been raising money and collecting essential supplies, as reports in the press described how refugees had been left without such items as toothpaste, sanitary towels, nappies and medicines while in temporary hotels, despite the supposed ‘warm welcome’ promised by the government.
While local councillors and MPs have criticised a “lack of coordination and information” from central government, charities such as West London Welcome are trying to fill in the gaps.
‘Portering luggage for newly-arrived Afghans is not how I set out to mark 9/11’ wrote volunteer Torcuil Crichton ‘but it seemed to close a circle. Some smiles from kids, adults looked strained, small wonder’.
‘It was beautiful meeting wonderful humans at @wlondonwelcome‘s big fat welcome day for #AfghanRefugees who have made it here’ wrote one volunteer.
‘Wonderful generosity from neighbours helping @wlondonwelcome to give a warm welcome. Also a big shout out to traders at Shepherds Bush Mkt who were v generous when I went to buy there’ wrote another.
‘Shout out to our volunteers today who gave a warm, heartfelt welcome & spent eight hours assisting people, carrying luggage, passing out treats, translating for our advice team & even taking kids to parks. Huge respect for our Afghans friends for their bravery, strength & resilience’ wrote West London Welcome director Joanne MacInnes.
Images above: Tweets from West London Welcome volunteers
Items urgently needed for refugees
The charity has asked The Chiswick Calendar to put out a request specifically for:
- Shoes, especially trainers and pumps of all sizes
- Clothes for girls and boys aged 9+
- Bras and knickers for teenage girls (new)
- Toys: dolls, Barbies, toy cars, cards, etc
- Hairbrushes (new)
If you’d like to donate money, you can do so here: localgiving.org
Pashto speakers needed
They’re also short of Pashto speakers and put out this request on Monday 13 September:
‘Do you or anyone you know speak Pashto and are able to translate for newly-arrived Afghans in West London tomorrow and/or in the coming weeks and months? Translators are really needed so people can get their basic needs met’.
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