More than 17,000 new items donated to Afghan refugee families in UK

Businesses and individuals buy items on charity wishlists for the thousands of Afghans quarantining in UK hotels

More than 17,000 brand new items have been donated for Afghan mothers and their children in less than a week by members of the public and businesses keen to help them settle in the UK.

Baby Basics, a national charity based in Sheffield, is working with the Home Office and a coalition of charities called Afghan Welcome to deliver essential equipment to hotels where Afghans are quarantining after fleeing the Taliban.

In the past six days alone, thousands of people have bought buggies, cots, high chairs and smaller items from wishlists set up by Baby Basics via Amazon and For Common Good.

Volunteers in a warehouse packing donated clothes, cots, toys and baby accessories for Afghan refugees
Thousands of people have bought buggies, cots, high chairs and smaller items from wishlists set up by Baby Basics via Amazon and For Common Good. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

The most expensive item on the list is a £160 travel system which incorporates a pram, push chair and car seat. The cheapest is a £2.49 pack of 10 maternity pads.

Baby Basics, which has 53 centres around the UK, finds out from the Home Office and Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership how many families are in each hotel, how old their children are and what items they need. Volunteers in Baby Basic’s Sheffield warehouse then compile bespoke parcels for each family and they are delivered to the hotels.

“We are going from hotel to hotel to get information about what basic needs families have and providing those items. That could be cots, high chairs, buggies, clothes, toys, things that are going to make them feel welcome but also keep their children safe,” said Cat Ross, the chief executive of Baby Basics UK.

About 10,000 Afghans were in quarantine hotels in the UK on Wednesday, according to the government. Among them are thousands of children. Ross said: “Most families have got between six and eight children and at least half of those will be of primary age.”

Many Afghans have left everything behind. “They are literally arriving only with what they stood up in. Some of the families that came early on in the evacuation were allowed to bring a few bags but as people needed to be evacuated quicker they came with nothing,” Ross said.

“They don’t have prams, clothing or toys – and obviously being in a quarantine hotel for 10 days toys are really important to keep those children occupied and those children OK to manage them.”


Helen Pidd North of England editor

The GuardianTramp

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