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Community North Wales Wrexham

Afghan refugees find safety and support in Wales

Lock Stock; Afghan refugees; Pictured are Jordan Hughes of Refugee Kindness and Lisa James of Lock Stock. Picture Mandy Jones

REFUGEES from Afghanistan are being helped by a Welsh charity after escaping the war-torn country.

They are now among over 250 displaced people starting to rebuild their lives with the help of local charity Refugee Kindness North Wales who are based at the Lock Stock Self-Storage site on Wrexham’s Whitegate Industrial Estate.

The charity is helping people in Wrexham, Rhyl and Colwyn Bay, among them several from Afghanistan, and they use the Lock Stock unit as a drop-off point for clothing, furniture and household goods donated by members of the public.

These are distributed to over 60 refugees and asylum seeking families numbering around 250 individuals, in Wrexham, Rhyl and Colwyn Bay, among them Iskander, not his real name, and his wife who now live in a flat near Wrexham.

They left family and friends behind to fly out to the UK and he said: “I didn’t even know there was a Wales before I arrived here but it is very nice here, very quiet and I hope to find work in management or education, perhaps with the British Government again.

“Refugee Kindness have been very good to us – we had some savings when we arrived but everything is very expensive here.

“The money we had would have been enough for more than a year in Afghanistan but we have spent most of it already just on basics.”

Refugee Kindness – North Wales was set up 12 months ago by barrister Rachel Watkin who gave a set of chairs to a family of Syrian refugees through Facebook Marketplace and, as a result, became aware of the plight of refugee and asylum-seeking families in North Wales and how difficult is for them to obtain household goods, toys and cooking utensils.

The volunteers of Refugee Kindness – North Wales began collecting items from the donors themselves and storing them at their homes but that very quickly became overwhelming and they contacted Lock Stock to hire a unit at their storage park on the Whitegate Estate.

They operated for nine months without any formal funding but the trustees realised the charity needed a full-time manager and this summer graduate Jordan Hughes, a volunteer for eight months, was appointed.

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Lock Stock’s Lisa James said: “It’s such a worthy charity and we’re glad we’ve been able to assist by renting the storage unit to the charity.

“The unit is secure and watertight and they can access it 24/7 so it is ideal  as a drop-off point as donors can access the unit at any time.”

Jordan added: “We do rely entirely on donations and have had a fantastic response from the people of North Wales who have been very kind and generous.

“The refugees arrive with very little and while they may be given a house or a flat they need things that can turn it into a home. For example, kitchen utensils because they love to cook, household goods and toys for the children.

“The families we support are from all over the world – we have families from Syria, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Iraq, Africa and other countries.

“I met two families last week from El Salvador and Kuwait and they were crying with happiness when we were able to help them – they were just overwhelmed by the kindness of people here in North Wales.

“We still need more help and with well over 100 children to arrange Christmas presents for we would be grateful for any toys, games, crafts etc.  We only provide items in good condition.

“Jewellery, make up, perfume or aftershave are also accepted for older children, provided that they are in sealed containers as we have to be certain they are not contaminated. We are also grateful for any wrapping paper donations.”

Lock Stock, founded in Denbigh in 1999, is the UK’s largest containerised storage company with over 3,000 units providing over four million cubic feet of space at 23 parks across North and Mid Wales and the border counties.

Their existing sites stretch from Holyhead and along the North Wales coast at Caernarfon, Bangor, Llandudno and Rhyl, on the Dee at Flint, Saltney, Deeside, Sandycroft and inland at Denbigh, Mold, Wrexham and Newtown in Powys, and at Oswestry and Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

For information about Lock Stock Self Storage including off-site container hire contact them on 01745 817178 or go to https://lockstock.biz/

For more about Refugee Kindness including how to donate to them go to https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeKindness/