Olive Branch Fostering reacted to the plight of children refugees in the Calais “Jungle” camp by sending presents with heart warming messages attached to give them some hope in these difficult times. Foster parents, foster children and staff at Olive Branch all got involved by handwriting messages and wrapping presents which were then hand delivered by our Chief Executive, Ziafat Ali. As a fostering agency our aim is the help as many vulnerable children as possible and not limiting ourselves to children within our care.
Here’s the article from the Lancashire Telegraph: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/15148125.Fostering_service___s_gift_to_refugees/
A fostering service has been on an ‘eye-opening’ trip to visit refugees in Calais to deliver gifts to those in need.
Olive Branch Fostering, based in Rawtenstall, delivered presents with hand-written messages from children and carers.
The trip was organised by chief executive officer Ziafat Ali, who delivered the presents with 11 volunteers, and he said the group is the first fostering agency in the country to go.
The 28-year-old said: “It was great to see the people from East Lancashire get involved, it was very touching to see some of the messages they wrote on gifts.
“It’s a hugely discussed topic nationally and it was just such a humbling experience to go over there and see what some of them are experiencing, especially the children.
“There were some long days at the Calais camps but it was a real eye opener.”
The team travelled eight hours from Rawtenstall to Dover to catch the ferry to visit those in need.
The agency took around 15 gifts to Calais at the end of last month to give to children.
Presents given included children’s toys, blankets, sleeping bags and food.
Each gift was then wrapped and delivered with a handwritten message of support.
One message read: “Sending lots of well wishes. Stay strong and be brave. You are amazing.”
Money was donated from a variety of sources, such as BT in Accrington and Influx Creative design in Blackburn.
Staff at the agency, based in New Hall Hey Road, said that they wanted to raise awareness of the issues refugees face with the trip.
Mr Ali said: “We are always looking to do something different to help children in need wherever they are.
“We are focused on caring for children regardless of religion, ethnicity or background.
“I just thought it would spread a bit of positivity to people over there as well as for people in the local area here.
“We want to create awareness that there are cares here in the UK that would welcome refugee children into their homes.
“We are the first foster care agency in the UK to go and visit the camps and this is surprising considering the amount of refugee children currently looked after in the UK care sector.”
Cllr Steve Hughes, who represents the ward where the agency is based for Rossendale Council, said: “It’s an absolutely lovely and such a thoughtful thing to do.
“A lot of people don’t fully understand what a refugee is and these sort of groups are helping to raise awareness of that.”