Fifers dig deep to help refugees

Lauren Daly (27), pictured outside the Exit Community Centre with the first donations for the Glenrothes / Calais Refugee Crisis.
Lauren Daly (27), pictured outside the Exit Community Centre with the first donations for the Glenrothes / Calais Refugee Crisis.

A massive response has been felt throughout Fife to the developing humanitarian crisis that has left many people fleeing their country in search of a better life.

A conversation sparked by the graphic images of a Syrian child’s dead body - which aired across media outlets last Tuesday - led two Glenrothes friends to take action.

Distraught at the unfolding crisis, mother-of-two and business owner Lauren Daly and friend Lewis Cunningham set up Facebook page ‘Glenrothes/Fife - Calais Refugee Collection’.

Lauren explained: “It’s taken for people to actually see the image of the young boy for it to hit home. This is not a political issue - it’s a human issue. I couldn’t sit back and not do anything.

“Although I can’t go to Calais I can co-ordinate from here and I thought setting up a group and sharing it amongst my friends, would get a decent response.”

Fife responded with feeling and less than 24 hours after setting up the operation, the Facebook page had over 200 messages of support and offers of help, including the use of the old coach works in Glenrothes donated for storage from local businessman Colin Nikolic, owner of Shadow Blinds.

The group also put out an appeal through a crowdfund page for anyone wanting to donate money to help with transport and other logistical costs.

On Monday an anonymous donor doubled the fund taking the total to £1090. Lauren said: “Some wonderful human being has anonymously pledged an amount which has matched what we had already reached. This whole process is restoring our faith in humanity. Fifers be proud. I am completely overwhelmed by the response.”

Councillor David Ross, council leader, said: “Fife is ready and willing to play its part in providing a welcome and assistance to refugees fleeing the war in Syria.

“I am pleased that both UK and Scottish Governments have now indicated that they will do more to address this humanitarian crisis. Fife Council has pledged to offer support and is actively assessing how many refugees we could offer to accommodate.

“We have had numerous calls and offers of assistance from individuals and community groups across Fife.

“I very much welcome this generosity and strength of feeling for fellow human beings shown by the people of Fife.”

Inundated by requests to help, the group has identified a number of drop off points across the county including: Thornton Town Hall, Tuesday 9.30am–11.30am, Wednesday 7pm-9pm, Friday 9.30am-11.30am; Decorland, Monday–Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 11am-4pm, Sunday 12pm-4pm; Exit Centre, Pitteuchar, Monday–Friday 9am-1pm, Saturday 9am-1pm.

Basic donations, such as toothpaste and hats can make a difference. Visit www.calaid.co.uk/ for a full list and packaging guidelines.