Syrian refugees really do need our help this winter – Hayley Matthews

Edinburgh Direct Aid is appealing for donations of clothes and other items to help people who have been forced to flee their homes and are living in tents in Syria, writes Hayley Matthews
Edinburgh Direct Aid volunteers are relying on your donations to help refugees cope with winter (Picture: Ian Georgeson)Edinburgh Direct Aid volunteers are relying on your donations to help refugees cope with winter (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Edinburgh Direct Aid volunteers are relying on your donations to help refugees cope with winter (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

As I rang Paddy the Plumber midweek to talk about my boiler, he got on to telling me he’s collecting for Edinburgh Direct Aid, a charity that supplies donated items to refugees trapped in camps after fleeing for safety.

Paddy told me how the October run is always the most crucial because the warm winter clothing collected for adults and children is essential to get them through the colder months.

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With the coronavirus restrictions the past few months, charities like EDA have found it difficult to get supplies to those in need so I’m putting out a plea to everyone to have a rummage for warm clothing to donate to help those in need.

Regardless of your thoughts on the refugee situation, no human should be displaced due to their country being at war, and no child should be freezing outside in a dirty tent – but they are, it’s the reality and it’s not their fault. EDA sends donations to many areas like Idlib in Syria that have been subjected to heavy and sustained bombing, resulting in more than half of the schools being destroyed, facilities wiped out and many civilians killed.

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Many thousands of people have fled the city, travelling north towards the Turkish border. But they’re not allowed to cross into Turkey so are trapped in miserable tented camps in north Idlib province. The conditions in the camps are wretched and the needs are great.

After reading about EDA, I told Paddy I’d get a big bag of winter clothing made up, make a cash donation and that I’d spread the word about EDA too. With an all-volunteer charity (no-one is paid except local staff in destination countries) they are the true meaning of the word “charity”.

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Being a mum of two kids I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for those with families who are living in refugee camps. They’re just trying to get access to a better life for their family.

For the majority of us who have been going through the pandemic from the comfort of our sofas, we needn’t moan about how “difficult” it’s been. Thousands of refugees camping in cold, wet, dirty tents in the middle of a worldwide pandemic – that’s difficult. With no clean clothing, little food or fresh water, it’s unthinkable, isn’t it? These families have also had to try to school their children so I never want to hear anyone moan to me about home schooling ever again – and I’ll not moan either. With very little time until the weather turns, I would love if anybody out there reading this could take time to go to and donate items named on the list. Or you can donate a cash amount too if you’re able to and want to.

If we’ve learnt anything through this pandemic, it’s surely that the basics such as food, fresh water and a safe place to live, are the most basic necessities in life that no human should be denied.

Last year my eldest son Harris and I organised a fundraiser collecting clothes for those living on the streets in the winter months, so this year I’m making it my mission to help refugees and spread the word to get as many donations as possible out to EDA’s collection point in Granton Square. Shoes, boots, underwear, winter clothes and toiletries are just some of the items you’ll find on the list of needed items. I’m sure you have more than you need so please be kind and dig deep in those drawers. Paddy the Plumber will be a happy man if we can make this happen and I’m sure those that your donations will go to will be incredibly grateful.

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