2,000 Britons offer to house refugees


More than 2,000 Britons have offered to house refugees in their own homes while others have donated food, clothes and shelter to ease the growing humanitarian crisis.

Many thousands have descended on community centres, churches and village halls across the country to make donations to help with the relief effort abroad.

In what charities have hailed as an almost unprecedented outpouring of support, teachers, dinner ladies and even Green Party leader Natalie Bennett gave up their Sunday to volunteer to help with donations.

Zoe Fritz, who has set up an online database of people willing to give a bed to those fleeing conflict and persecution, said she has been moved to tears by the flood of responses.

Dr Fritz, 39, who works as a consultant at Cambridge University Hospital, said: "My heart has sung at the things people have written. It has been extraordinary the generosity people have had.

"From people who clearly have the space to people who have said 'I don't have much but I have more than a tent on a beach somewhere'.

"I have been in tears. I've been very, very heartened. We can all offer to help but we need to turn that into action."

The mother-of-two, who lives with her husband, seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter in Cambridgeshire, said she will offer her home to a refugee.

Meanwhile hundreds of people descended on Dalston in east London to donate thousands of boxes and bags of clothes, blankets, tents and food for refugees living in "The Jungle" camp in Calais.

Among them was the Green Party leader who donated some walking boots and was working as a volunteer helping to shift boxes.

She said: "It really is absolutely inspiring and great to see. I've been trying to estimate - 600, maybe 1,000 people, it's very hard to tell. But it's an outpouring of compassion, of care, of concern for people in Calais. And it really is great to see and a great tribute to the people of Britain.

"People are really standing up and saying we care about these terribly vulnerable people who need aid."

Volunteer Martine Parry said: "This is a very British thing - since Make Poverty History when everybody got fed up seeing the pictures of starving babies and decided to do something about it.

"This appeal is playing into the British sense of fair play - or unfair play.

"People here are making a difference."