Bucklebury woman appeals for care packages for Afghan evacuees in Reading
A Bucklebury woman is appealing for help to create care packages for hundreds of Afghan evacuees in quarantine in Reading.
Mother-of-two Linzi Blakey, who is also a trustee of the West Berkshire Community Baby Bank, has set up a JustGiving page and an Amazon wishlist after teaming up with the Nick Harborne, the chief executive of the Reading Refugee Support Group.
They are now creating bags of supplies for the more than 200 evacuees currently being housed in Reading hotels.
Ms Blakey, a former reservist who has friends who fought in Afghanistan, said: “I just thought ‘what can I do?’
“I know Nick [Harborne] so I asked him how I could bolster everything that was going on.
“He said it was complete chaos and he needed funding and care packages for the two hotels in Reading that are currently accommodating over 200 evacuees.
“So I set up a JustGiving page and an Amazon wishlist last week and just plastered it all over social media.”
She said she has been overwhelmed by the response ever since, with people from as far away as Singapore contributing to the cause.
Ms Blakey said the appeal was a “real family effort” with husband Freddie Burger, daughter Florence and two-year-old son Hugo helping out and her parents Pat and Bryan Blakey also on hand to unpack the parcels that are arriving every day.
She has also been contacted by the Thatcham Waitrose store, which has donated “more than a trolley-full” of supplies.
Caroline Herman, who set up All Yours during lockdown to help those in period poverty, also got in touch after seeing Ms Blakey’s appeal. She has now delivered a huge supply of sanitary products to be included in the packages too.
Seven-year-old Florence, who attends Yattendon Primary School, will be writing a welcome letter that will also be put into all of the bags for the evacuees.
“The community around here is amazing,” Ms Blakey said. “Every time I ask for something people just come to the fore.
“I have had everything from neighbours delivering things, to people I have never met before sharing my post with their LinkedIn networks.”
The care bags include essentials such as toothbrushes, hair brushes, underwear, socks, sanitary products and shaving kits.
There are also sweets, notepads, pens and some Farsi books for the children.
“More stuff is arriving every day,” Ms Blakey added. “It has been an amazing community response but also an amazing national and international response to our local cause.
“Thank you to all those who have supported us; it’s amazing how people have responded.”
But it isn't just practical items that the evacuees will need now they have arrived in Britain, Ms Blakey said. Some of the money raised by the JustGiving page will allow Mr Harborne to provide mental health support provision for anyone who may be struggling to cope with the trauma they have experienced.