Shetland Digs Deep For Refugees
by Alastair Hamilton -
The flight of refugees from war-torn countries in the Middle East has dominated headlines and government business all over Europe. In Shetland, many members of the community have become involved in putting together various forms of assistance for those who find themselves forced to flee from the terrors in their homelands.
Shetland has a long tradition of generosity towards the less fortunate; indeed the islands took in many refugees from occupied Norway during the Second World War. Islanders frequently raise more money per head of population than any other part of Britain for charitable appeals such as BBC Children in Need, and the response to the current crisis is no different. A Facebook page, Shetland Solidarity with Refugees, attracted well over 1,000 supporters in its first few hours.
There have also been public demonstrations of support, including a vigil at Lerwick’s Market Cross. But the main impact has been practical: collection points were quickly established across Shetland to receive donations, and thousands of items, including much-needed clothing, tents and sleeping bags, were handed in. There was a special appeal for baby slings and these, too, were found and donated.
The first phase of the appeal is now approaching its conclusion and volunteers are sorting all the items ready for transport south; £1,000 was raised to pay for that.
Meanwhile, Shetland Islands Council has unanimously agreed to offer whatever help and support it can; however, the allocation of refugees to local authority areas is a central government responsibility and it’s unclear whether any will come to Shetland. If they do, the groups that have been established will be ready to offer a warm welcome and provide support.
Posted in: Community