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Making a donation to the Lochaber Supports Refugees group has never been easier thanks to the opening of new premises in Fort William’s High Street, writes Iain Ferguson.
The local group has been active for many years, collecting clothes, footwear and other items as diverse as camping equipment at ITS storage base at Camaghael from where they were sorted ready to be sent to those in need in other parts of the world.
All of this is now being undertaken at what most people will recognise as the former Wynne’s the Butcher shop at Aird’s Crossing. This will be open for donations twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays between 11am and 1pm.
As a result of recent conflicts, the need for adult male clothing in particular is increasing, with shirts, trousers, socks, underwear, thick, warm hoodies, all much in demand and being put to good use. Women’s clothing, too, will be very welcome.
Donations should be clean and in good condition so they can be quickly sorted by volunteers, ready for immediate use by those who need them. They also put together complete ‘family’ boxes with adult and children’s clothing.
Clothing is both sent abroad and given to refugees arriving in this country, who will almost certainly have left their homes with almost nothing and will need assistance as they face an uncertain future. So with winter coming, a particular emphasis, as Highland dwellers will know from their own experience, will be on staying warm.
Being part of the Highlands Support Refugees charity is also an advantage when aid is needed abroad as, with increasing costs and paperwork, co-operation is vital so that a number of charities can pool transport resources to make sure delivery of the clothing can reach the places it is needed.
In addition to individual donations, many businesses, including large retail chains, hand over new clothes which are extra to their requirements.
Likewise, the refugee charity will donate items they are unable to use to shops run by other charities so that nothing goes to waste.
Co-ordinator Sandra Smith the Lochaber Times: ‘The new shop is absolutely fantastic in that it is visible and in a convenient location for both donations and our volunteers. The rent is also much lower which means less of a drain on our finances.
‘It is a great space and I would like to thank everyone who helped turn the building from an empty shell into a working area, with places for sorting and storage.’