Information on how to support Camden’s Afghan Crisis Response
We know many of our faith, voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations and members of the public want to know what they can do to support refugees from Afghanistan arriving in London.
At the moment, most newly arrived Afghan Nationals are in hotels managed by central Government where their housing and wider support needs are being assessed. Refugees are likely to be moved to more permanent accommodation outside Camden over the coming weeks and months.
We are working to identify the needs of residents, and thanks to the generosity of our VCS partners faith communities and members of the public, we have been able to provide deliveries of clothes, toys and nappies, as well as other essentials including electrical and religious items.
This is an evolving situation and ways in which people can support and help are likely to change over the coming weeks and months. We’ve listed below the ways in which support is best targeted at the moment and will update this as we get further information.
We have set-up a wish list so we can update items that are needed in real time. Items such as clothing and toiletries can be purchased via our wish list and will be delivered to Afghan refugees in hotels. If you are able to contribute, please visit the Wish List
We understand that not everyone wants to contribute via Amazon so we are currently looking into alternative options and have applied for an account with In Kind Direct.
Donation centre and hub locations
Phoenix Court: 2 Brill Pl, London NW1 1DX Drop off times 1pm-4pm Monday Friday
We are working with Phoenix Court to collect new items and match them to peoples individual needs. This is a donation point for new items which can be easily transported.
If you are an individual or a business looking to make a large scale donation, please email email@example.com to speak to us about how else we can accept your donation.
There are also Voluntary Organisations which are collecting items for both the Afghan response and other Refugee groups in Camden. Please email if you would like to support.
We are specifically looking for: Winter clothes, cold/wet weather items, Baby/Children’s equipment and shoes for adults or children. By donating via this hub, they will be matched to an individuals or families specific asked for items.
We are asking people not to organise donations unless specific items are requested. In general, we are asking for new items only. We have completed needs analysis of hotel residents- these needs are being provided for from the wish list and via partners who have been providing donated items. The council has worked with a large number of VCS organisations to meet the initial humanitarian need and continues to do so.
Current demand is for outerwear for all ages, specifically, coats, hats/gloves/scarves and winter shoes/boots.
We are aware that there are large numbers of local residents and organisations who are looking to support in their own way. Often the most obvious way is the donation of second-hand items. We have predominantly provided new items in order to preserve the dignity and respect of the Afghan community relocated temporarily to Camden hotels.
Unfortunately, due to the scale of the response, we do not have the capacity to sort and process second-hand items. If organisations wish to support by collecting used items, we recommend that they speak with refugee support organisations such as those named at the bottom of this briefing.
For those that would like to contribute by purchasing new items, please do so via the Wish List above.
Access to services
Our on-site teams and colleagues in the NHS have been working with hotel residents to get them registered at local GP practices and healthcare services. We have also been working with families to enrol those children that are ready in local schools. For those that are not ready we are working with our children and young people professionals to deliver alternative education provision.
Hotel residents are also being supported to access Camden’s Library network, as well as the range of Camden Sports and Leisure Activities via the GLL gyms boroughwide. All Afghan nationals in Camden hotels will be issued with a library card which means people will be able to access IT equipment at libraries, join activities and sessions for children and families, as well as borrow books.
Access to activities
We are working in partnership with many locally based organisations to deliver a programme of activities specifically for Afghan families and to provide access to existing community activities. Partners such as Coram’s Fields and Calthorpe Community Gardens are delivering play and sports activities for children and young people, as well as providing access to community spaces for adults and parents.
Many families have already registered at these organisations so that they can access the general programme of activities. These programmes are being developed and delivered in consultation with Afghan families and are responsive to the needs of hotel residents.
If your organisation is based in the south of the borough and has existing capacity and funding to deliver bespoke sessions or activities for Afghan families please let us know by completing this pro-forma. We have received generous offers from organisations based in the centre and north of the borough however we are focussing our efforts on activities in the south and the local vicinity of the bridging hotels.
If we are in need of a specific type of activity, we will put a call out to see which organisations might be able to provide assistance.
Unfortunately, due to the high numbers of offers of support received, we are not always able to respond to all individual enquiries.
Restricting access to hotels- on site activities, workshops, classes, or deliveries of donations
We have been approached by many organisations who want to deliver activities or sessions on site at hotels or distribute donations. Whilst we recognise that these kind offers of support are both generous and well meaning, there is a strict policy on restricting access to hotels. We are organising specific sessions for hotel residents based on needs, for example ESOL classes and Road Safety Awareness. Where there is a need, we are inviting specific services or organisations in to deliver relevant sessions/ activities. We are working with the Red Cross and Re-Act to provide deliveries of donations to the hotel and, unless specifically invited, no other organisations will be permitted access.
We are working with a number of organisations who have been providing volunteer support including language and interpreting support as well as family liaison.
Please note that in the first instance we are working with volunteers who are known to our VCS and Faith partners. We may not be able to contact everybody who has volunteered their support.
Some examples of how volunteers are supporting our work include:
- Matching volunteers with teaching/ ESOL experience with our Adult Community Learning teams to support English conversation classes
- Working with volunteers from UCL to deliver activities for children and young people
Due to the sensitive nature of the work, anyone working directly with refugees will need to undertake a mandatory 2-hour training session (details under training below).
As we develop our programme of support the key volunteer roles we are seeking are as follows:
Translation/ interpreting- speakers of Dari/ Farsi and Pashto can help provide language support and interpreting for people as they access local activities and amenities. We may also require volunteers to translate written material.
Due to the nature of the work, anybody providing translation/ interpreting support directly to hotel residents will need to have a current DBS check or be willing to have one, and will need to have completed the mandatory 2-hour training (please see details below)
We particularly welcome offers of support from people who have a background in working with refugees, or people or families who have experienced trauma.
Education, teaching, ESOL- many refugees are likely to be moved out of Camden in the coming weeks and months. Some families may not want their children to enrol in school before they are more settled and other children are not yet ready for a formal education offer.
We are developing programmes of alternate education provision and would welcome offers of support from people with skills and experience of teaching, delivering educational activities or programmes and those with ESOL skills.
We know that there are many skilled people from Afghanistan who have arrived so we will be working with hotel residents to identify volunteer roles that will supplement existing skills and areas of expertise and support hotel residents to develop their own programmes of provision.
Due to the nature of the work, education volunteers will need to have a current DBS check or be willing to have one, and will need to have completed the mandatory 2-hour training (please see details below)
Welcome and orientation- at the moment we are working with a number of partner organisations whose volunteers are supporting our work around local orientation. We may need future assistance with this which will include volunteers accompanying hotel residents to local activities and services, such as stay and play activities for children or to local libraries etc.
Due to the nature of the work, volunteers will need to have a current DBS check or be willing to have one, and will need to have completed the mandatory 2-hour training (please see details below)
Sorting donations- we have received generous donations of new items and are currently working with partners to sort and distribute these. Volunteers who may want to help with this are asked to make contact via the Time to Spare volunteering hub or directly with Volunteer Centre Camden, where offers are coordinated and directed onto the most suitable place. Please also see the volunteer opportunities with VCS partners below.
Volunteer opportunities with VCS partners
One of our partners, Little Village has several volunteer roles they are currently recruiting for. Little Village is like a foodbank, but for clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children up to the age of 5. Little Village has grown to be one of the largest ‘baby banks’ in the UK, supporting over 11,000 children since it launched in 2016. Families are referred via a network of over 1,800 professionals such as midwives and social workers. Little Village’s vision is that every child in the capital has the essential items they need to thrive.
Little Village has various roles which can be done at our site in Somers Town or remotely, at various times throughout the week.
- Stock sorting on site – Helping us sort through all our wonderful donations to ensure they are suitable to be gifted to families.
- Packing for families on site – Putting together bespoke bundles for our referred families.
- Pre-Bundling on site – Packing generic bundles for different ages and genders.
- Volunteer drivers – Helping us to deliver packed bundles in a hired van or their own car to family homes and hostels.
- Home sorters – Collecting donations from the community centre to take home and sort through and then bring back to the hub
If you are interested in volunteering directly with Little Village, please sign up here:
If you are an individual who is interested in volunteering, please register via Time to Spare. We are creating a database of individuals that we can contact as we have a clearer idea of the volunteer tasks that will be needed. Please note that we may not be able to contact everyone who has registered but we appreciate people’s kindness and generosity.
Our partners Hopscotch Women’s Centre are delivering an introduction to cultural awareness and trauma informed approach training session which will be mandatory for staff and volunteers directly working with refugees. It is a 2- hour online session and details will be shared with volunteers who have registered via Time to Spare.
Hopscotch fundraising appeal
Hopscotch Women’s Centre is fundraising urgently for supplies and permanent help to Afghan refugees in Camden. Thanks to people’s generosity thousands of pounds have been raised so far. Hopscotch Women’s Centre has been able to provide Afghan refugees with essential and religious items including Korans, headscarves and foldable prayer mats. Funds are now being used for their Refugee Family Advocacy work, to provide vital support and guidance for the wellbeing of those who have fled danger. If you are able to contribute to this appeal, please donate to the Hopscotch Women’s Centre Fund
Little Village Crisis Fund for Afghan Children in London
Help Little Village coordinate the London-wide response for 0-5s and distribute critical warm clothing and nappies to children in temporary accommodation. Little Village has supplied Afghan families in hotels in Camden with bundles of clothing, nappies, toiletries, toys and activity packs, as well as other essentials such as bottles and formula. If you are able to contribute to this appeal, please donate to the Little Village Crisis Fund
We are also working with Care 4 Calais, The Lewisham Donation Hub and the British Red Cross who are running national campaigns which people can donate to. Other national organisations are providing vital support, such as work with unaccompanied minors, and running fundraising appeals.