Kind-hearted Horsham district residents have thought up imaginative ways to fundraise for refugees that have fled war zones in the Middle East.
Yoga teacher Katy Lomas from Rudgwick visited the Calais refugee camp, and upon returning home organised a fundraising yoga retreat, while Horsham resident Lynda Brodie has been knitting and collecting winter clothes for donation.
Katy spent eight days in Calais helping refugee families after the New Year.
She did whatever she could do help there, from chopping vegetables and serving hot food to teaching yoga and building shelters.
Speaking about the people at Calais, Katy said: “They’re all completely innocent victims of war. They just want to be somewhere safe.
“It’s shocking to have slums on our doorstep, so I felt a responsibility to act.
“I was particularly moved by the plight of the families who have been separated from their loved ones and the vulnerable situation that many young children are in.”
Upon returning to the UK, Katy decided to organise a fundraising yoga retreat to help the refugees.
The day-long yoga retreat took place at a studio near Shamley Green, Surrey on Sunday February 21 and managed to raise over £1,000 in support of the charity Help Refugees.
Attendees took part in a range of classes such as Vinyasa Flow (in which movement is synchronised to breathing) and Guided Meditation. They took breaks by lunching on vegan food and taking strolls into the nearby countryside.
Katy said: “Everyone had a really lovely time. It’s important to heal our bodies and even more so to do it for a worthwhile cause.”
Emily Crispin, who attended the retreat said: “We had a fantastic day. It was wonderful uniting through yoga and raising desperately needed funds for an important cause.”
Tanya Freedman, a volunteer coordinator for Help Refugees, said: “Congratulations to Katy on organising such a successful event.
“The £1,000 raised buys a week’s worth of meals for the thousands of refugees on Samos, Greece, or buys four winter shelters to house families in France. This will truly make a difference.”
Katy will be returning to Calais to volunteer with Help Refugees later this year. She is also planning on holding more local fundraising events in the near future.
“I hope that by using my yoga skills to help raise money I can help in some way.” she said.
Meanwhile, Horsham resident Lynda Brodie has been supporting refugees with the power of knitting, through her Facebook group Hats, Scarves & Mittens.
Lynda uses the group to co-ordinate efforts in Sussex to knit winter clothes for refugees and have them posted or driven to the next available aid drop.
Lynda created the group last year after seeing on the news the devastating plight of refugees escaping the war in Syria.
Lynda said: “I knew that I wanted to do my bit to help somehow, so I thought ‘what am I good at?’ Knitting and Crocheting!
“I decided to start my own group, knitting warm and cosy items that can be sent directly to refugee collections and aid centres.
“Aid from Lynda’s group has even been sent as far as Syria to help more people.
“Anything helps, if you are only able to knit something simple, I have group members knitting colourful squares, which they send to me and I sew them into warm blankets, which are always needed.”
The group also helps donate other items that could be useful to the refugees.
Lynda said: “A local vicar in Crawley contacted me through the knitting group advising that one of their parishioners had donated lots of scout tents and wasn’t sure what to do with them, so I collected those and arranged for them to be sent direct to Calais.”
Lynda now divides her time between co-ordinating aid drops, collecting and sorting donations and a lot of knitting.
“People want to know that their belongings will get to the right places, direct to where it’s needed most, and I’m here to help that happen.”
You can donate or find out more information on Katy and Lynda’s efforts via their respective Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/katyandthecalm/?fref=ts and https://www.facebook.com/groups/1641066599544778/
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