Sheffield volunteers spearheading mercy mission for hundreds of Afghan children fleeing Taliban

Volunteers in Sheffield are spearheading a mission of mercy to kit out hundreds of children with life essentials after they fled the Taliban.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 8:06 am

The charity Baby Basics is sending out clothes, prams, toys and toiletries to youngsters who have arrived in the UK after fleeing Afghanistan on emergency flights from Kabul with nothing other than the clothes they were wearing.

They have been called on to help just three weeks after moving into a new warehouse they are using as a base for the operation, near Millhouses Park.

The Sheffield based charity also has 53 centres across the UK which distribute items from its HQ and has been supporting vulnerable families for several years.

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Maggie Hanson, Gill Manifold and Joy Tanner at Baby Basics UK pack baby equipment for Afghan refugee families across the UK. Picture Scott Merrylees

Chief executive Cat Ross said they started the project yesterday.

She said: “Baby Basics has been running for 12 years as a national network of Baby Basics centres across the UK supporting vulnerable families with children from pre-birth to five years old, and when I saw the Afghan crisis happening and the re-settlement programme for people coming into the UK I wanted to find a way for Baby Basics to support that through our network of centres and through our amazing corporate partners.

“So I approached a wonderful man called Dr Krish Kandiah who has set up a coalition of charities which we are now part of called Afghan Welcome and we’re working with him to co-ordinate support for these families of basic essentials such as clothing toys, toiletries nappies, prams pushchairs, high chairs cots, because the heart of Baby Basics is we want to ensure that every family has what they need, but most importantly, that every child has a safe space to sleep.

"Today we’re taking in deliveries from three of our corporate partners, Silver Cross, NubyUK, and Kit and Kin. We’re also processing some of our national donations through the Boden preloved scheme of clothing so we’ve got those ready to go out to families, and were working hotel by hotel across the country so that what we’re going to be packing today is going to go out to Afghan refugees that are being resettled in Milton Keynes.”

Cat Ross at Baby Basics UK pack baby equipment for Afghan refugee families across the UK. Picture Scott Merrylees

There is a team of between five and 10 volunteers each day. At present they have enough, but they expect they may need more in the coming weeks.

Teams of volunteers are taking second hand clothes which have been donated through the clothing firm Boden, and checking if any need washing or ironing, before they sort them by age and gender.

They are then sorted into outfits and boxed and sent out.

Prams and cots are being sent out new, donated by businesses, because it is the most straightforward way of dealing with packaging and delivering what would otherwise be bulky items.

Roz Barnett at Baby Basics UK pack baby equipment for Afghan refugee families across the UK. Picture Scott Merrylees

Among the volunteers at the charity yesterday was Roz Barnett, a mum from Crosspool who has been helping at Baby Basics for several years.

She said the scenes that people had seen in Afghanistan on the news were awful.

"It’s good to know that we can help people in a small way,” she said.

Most of donated items have come from national sources and Some groups in Sheffield have rallied to help, including St Mark’s Church in Broomhill, which has offered to buy toys for packs the charity is sending out.

Baby Basics UK pack baby equipment for Afghan refugee families across the UK. Picture Scott Merrylees

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