Charity Begins At Home

Many of us will have watched the news reports about the suffering of refugees fleeing the war in Syria. One local woman decided there must be something she could do to help, writes Tracy Hargreaves

Dozens of boxes of warm clothes have been shipped out to support freezing refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria thanks to the efforts of a Poulton mum.

Heather Bancroft, who runs her own PR consultancy, has been spearheading the Lancashire effort for small scale charity Carry the Future.

After being horrified seeing footage of refugee families struggling off the ships arriving into Greece, with parents carrying their children and what little belongings they had, she thought there must be something she could do to help. Following a little research, Heather came across Carry the Future, a grassroots charity collecting and distributing donated baby carriers at ports and refugee camps across Greece to help mums carry their children safely.

As the initial campaign grew, so did Heather’s involvement and through word of mouth she was quickly receiving donations from all over the Fylde coast. She is now one of two north regional co-ordinators for the charity, along with Anna Hopkins in Lancaster. She collects donations at her home and has set up drop off points with the Happy Days Nursery Group and Simply Baby in Lancaster, and is looking for organisations in central and East Lancs to come on board this year.

The charity has volunteers working in camps throughout Europe finding out what their particular requirements are, and feeding that information back to the UK and international teams to direct their collection campaigns. In many cases, the camps receive little official support and rely on the efforts of volunteers and helpers many hundreds of miles away. Last summer the appeal was for hats, flip flops and sunscreen to help protect children in the baking heat, followed by the recent #WarmToesForWinter and #OuterwearAndUnderwear campaigns which asked for donations of warm clothes, boots, jumpers, gloves and hats.

“Greece is having one of its coldest winters on record. That’s not great if you’re living in a tent with your kids,” said Heather. “The two latest campaigns saw more than 8,000 items collected nationally, a large proportion of that coming from the North West. Volunteers across the UK are being inundated with generous donations from friends, family and strangers, and then getting their bags and boxes to the collection point in London, from where it is shipped abroad. We can partner with other charities or arrange our own shipping to get the aid to where it is needed.

“We’re a small but committed group of people who feel we can’t just do nothing, and through this charity we can make a real difference for these families.”

Anyone can help out either by giving clothing, donating towards shipping costs, or even by giving up their time to help sort and pack.

“What’s fantastic is that we actually get to see the results of our efforts and when you see a picture of a child’s face when they are given a pair of shoes you collected, it’s a truly humbling and joyous moment.”

To find out more about the charity or to donate follow CarryTheFutureUK on Facebook

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