Lancaster charity provides vital aid for refugees

Carole Roberts, Julie Vallance and Maria Ward. Photo by Ian Cooper
Carole Roberts, Julie Vallance and Maria Ward. Photo by Ian Cooper
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Members of a Lancaster charity have travelled to the Greek Island of Chios to provide vital aid for refugees.

This was the 12th overseas aid trip the Ripple Effect charity had undertaken since it was founded two years ago by friends Julie Vallance, Maria Ward and Carole Roberts.

The Ripple Effect has previously visited other Greek Islands and countries around Europe to provide aid to refugees over the past few years.

Carole said: “The aim was to make the most of the time available whilst on Chios; we distributed aid and established where we could provide support in the future.

“We visited the only official camp on Chios but found the aid available to those living there woefully inadequate.

“People are very grateful for what little we feel we can do. They are grateful that they are not completely forgotten, and even though they have lost everything they still have dignity and hope.”

Julie highlighted the struggles the charity has when trying to provide aid in official refugee camps.

She said: “Nothing surprises me anymore; the fact that the authorities put barriers in the way of the distribution of much needed aid is beyond belief.”

The charity relies on donations from local businesses and the public, of clothing, sleeping bags, large supplies of toiletries and women’s hygiene products and also require cash donations for transporting supplies.

Maria added: “We are very grateful for the continued support we receive throughout the year. Donations and any fund raising are vital if we are to continue to make a difference to the lives of those living in appalling conditions.”

During the trip, the charity also visited The Hope Centre, a volunteer run space which offers refugees some time away from the camp and provides more ‘homely’ comforts.

Carole said: “This place offers a few hours of tranquillity for refugees, away from the camp, giving them access to showers, toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste which is all very precious in these circumstances.

“They also have an outdoor play area for children and an indoor learning environment offering educational activities where children can feel safe for a few hours, which sadly is a very rare occurrence for these children. The trauma the children have already experienced often makes this an overwhelming experience for them.”

The charity has another trip planned in July and aims to do a minimum of three trips per year to provide vital aid.