Volunteers' houses filled with donations for Afghan refugees amid 'heart-warming' Yorkshire response

Volunteers’ houses have been filled with donations thanks to the “heart-warming” response from Yorkshire people to refugees amid the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan.

Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of arrivals at RAF Brize Norton who have been evacuated from Afghanistan, via the UAE, under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Program (ARAP) (Cpl Will Drummee RAF/MOD/Crown copyright)

The charity Care4Calais are working around the clock to “meet the needs of people who will be arriving quite literally with just the clothes on their back” having fled following the rapid advance of the Taliban.

Donation points are registered across Yorkshire for people to drop off clothes and other essential items in anticipation of people being housed temporarily or more permanently in the region..

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Emma Weekes, who is based near Huddersfield, told The Yorkshire Post she has “had emails constantly, almost every day, people asking what they can donate and how they can help.”

“My house is now full of lots and lots of things and I’ve got more coming,” she added.

Ms Weekes said most people have asked what more they could do to help in future, describing people’s attitudes as “really heart-warming actually because people genuinely seem to want to know what they can do to help.”

Donations of men’s clothes, as well as women’s clothes that are modest are most needed, alongside coats for the coming winter months and toiletries and sanitary products.

Anita Smith from Alwoodley, Leeds works as a school teacher and has been using time in the long-summer break to volunteer for Care4Calais, who have been providing support to refugees and asylum seekers across the country for a number of years.

“We are trying to meet the needs of people who are arriving quite literally with just the clothes on their back”, she explained

“The lucky ones have been able to get together a bag of things that they know they’ll need.

“I can’t imagine that sense of urgency of leaving your home - and most of them realise it’s probably going to be for a while, if not forever - with anything you can grab.

Like Ms Weekes, Ms Smith said she had been “answering emails all weekend”. “I’ve got a porch full of bags,” she added, “People have just said ‘let me do something’.

“When you think of all the awfulness you can think well, at least there are lots of people out there who are very kind and generous.

Describing humans’ natural response as one of compassion, Ms Smith added: “If it was me, I’d like to think there would be people out there who would think about me and my family.”

Meanwhile, the former head of the British Army General Lord Richard Dannatt suggested more could have been done if the Government had not been “asleep on watch”.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “It is unfathomable why it would appear that the Government was asleep on watch.

“I think the issue of Afghanistan sat on the backburner. Maybe it started to come forward. But then, suddenly, when the Taliban took over the country in the precipitate fashion in which they did, it fell off the cooker straight on to the kitchen floor and we’ve ... had this chaotic extraction.”

Addressing the families and loved ones of the British troops who “gave their all”, Mr Johnson said: “Your suffering and your hardship were not in vain.”

He added: “It was no accident that there’s been no terrorist attack launched against Britain or any other western country from Afghanistan in the last 20 years.”

But Conservative MP and veteran Tobias Ellwood said the UK had “very little to show” for 20 years in Afghanistan.

The chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee told LBC: “Our armed forces performed so valiantly but they were let down by their political masters.

“We lacked the strategy, the statecraft, the patience to see through, and the manner of our departure is a humiliation, a confirmation of our diminished resolve, and our adversaries will not be slow to exploit it.”