June 17, 2018: Email from Rosie Simpson
Hi Anthony and Mary
A huge thank you to your knitters for the teddies and mice. Friday was the start of Bayram a three day holiday following 28 days of fasting, as important to our families as Christmas is to us. Nichola and I went out to deliver goods that had been donated to new families in the area and gave out some cuddlies to the children.
The children were really delighted to receive them and for some it will be the start of something special for them.
It was a heartwarming day for me and I just wanted to share it with you both as well as asking you to convey the thanks of our small group
A great big thank you to you all
April 25, 2018
See the latest wonderful collection of knitware from Marjorie Clarke’s knitters in Blackburn. We aren’t collecting squares any more and need to check what is the most urgent need for the future.
April 10, 2018: Letter from Samara
Samara aid Appeal is where we have taken blankets and woolly things for dispatch to Syria and this is the latest from them. Click on the picture to get the full letter.
March 24, 2018
We are still receiving woolly things. We aren’t collecting squares at the moment. We have hundreds of them which people are slowly stitching into blankets. We are particularly grateful for knitted hats, particularly baby hats, knitted baby clothes and woolly toys. See the wonderful little mice too in the picture.
December 19, 2017
I received this long update Samara Appeal (December 2017) from Samara which covers their recent convoy to Deir Ez-zor which is the largest city in eastern Syria and the seventh largest in the country. It is located 450 km to the northeast of the capital Damascus on the shores of the Euphrates River.
The video below is about distributing shoes, part of the Samara appeal but not something that we contribute to.
December 16, 2017
From Rosie Simpson: “The latest blanket sewn together from the squares made by your knit and natter group. These ones are going to Calais and Greece via a Welsh organisation and will arrive at their destination before the really bad weather sets in.”
November 19, 2017
We can no longer easily take knitted ware to Turkey via Monarch. Firstly the concession we got for an extra 20 Kg bag ceased and finally Monarch went into liquidation. Moreover there was simply too much for Pete and Rosie and their family and friends to carry. We needed to find another carrier.
We found one in the form of the Samara Aid Appeal which had a collection point in Kendal from where everything would be taken to a container in Beverley. We understand the container would carry 1,500 banana boxes of clothing and knitware. Our contribution amounted to around six banana boxes, some of which is shown in the picture. Many thanks to the people of our parish and people in Blackburn who knitted all these wonderful things and stitched squares into blankets. We understand they are headed for Syria or for Syrian refugees in the camps.
June 18, 2017
The group we were part of last year is now disbanded, largely due to success in helping families get registered. Medical care is now available to them and children are entitled to education.
There are 1,500 refugee families in the town and 500 known to S, a refugee herself. She works tirelessly for those less fortunate than herself and her family.
On Wednesday Mary and Rosie went to an educational and social afternoon with women and children. Because of the restrictions of Ramadan i.e. fasting it was felt it should be social rather than educational as the women get very tired.
On Thursday we delivered blankets, clothing and toys. There is plenty to give out. In addition to the things brought from England the ex pats are generous or root out what they don’t need. When they leave for good there is the bigger stuff. What is of no use to the refugees might be exchanged in charity shops for things that are.
Everything is sorted and marked and S visits the families to determine needs. The grapevine is such that when new refugees arrive, they learn about S and they go on her list. Yesterday we visited three residences that were new to S. At the first family there was also a young girl with a young child and a new baby. Her mother had told her S was coming so she came too. S also learned that there were two babies elsewhere shortly to be born. There will be clothes for them but not to be handed out just yet. S made notes in her little note book listing things that weren’t available. Once registered the refugees are entitled to a one off payment for food but that is it. This particular family had a fan – necessary in the heat which outside was close to 40 degrees on that particular day. Fans are essential in this heat and we are attempting to make sure that each family has one. We visited two more residents, the last one quite a way out. The accomodation is poor and not conveniently placed. They have to take what they can get.
We had brought children’s clothes, toys and blankets with us to Turkey. We hadn’t expected the blankets to be needed till later but some of them were. It seemed strange that the new born baby was so well covered up even in a heat which was almost uncomfortable for us in our light clothing. The blankets become essential in the winter so we brought over what we could for later. I’ve lost count of how many our group have made so far. This time we brought two full size ones and three for children/babies. We have a few more but beyond that we have quite a number to collect from people and enough squares for a dozen or so more. They will go out as Pete and Rosie to and fro and as family and friends do the same.
There are 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, managing as best they can and waiting for the day they can return to their homes back in Syria. We can help but a few.
March 6 2017
The next Knit and Knatterthon is on 29 March in Clitheroe. Our plan was to have the next one in Sabden but due to unforeseen circumstances the Sabden one will be delayed for a few weeks.
January 19 2017
The Knit and Knatterthon was an enormous success with people arriving at just after 10.00 am and the last leaving after 10.00 pm. One or two stayed the entire day and a healthy number put in quite a few hours. Things slackened off a little in the afternoon but people came and went and kept the numbers up. People came from as far away as Manchester, Preston and Blackburn so the publicity worked better than we could ever have imagined. Numbers reduced around teatime with a fresh influx after evening Mass (it was the feast of St Peter and Paul) to enjoy the Clitheroe Ukulele Band who put on a show which was almost enough to stop the knitting and in some cases did. In total 75 people put their names on the list of attenders and that didn’t include the 12 children from St Michael and St John’s. The age range was 97 years. I think we had all but one of the local Christian communities present but not everybody noted their affiliation so we could have had all eight. It was a wonderful community event with people making new acquaintances. Knitting is surprisingly relaxing and the conversation flowed easily even with complete strangers.
Click on the picture for a video of the event.
What was particularly good was the number of young people and men and the number of people who came to learn or refresh. The experienced knitters were kept busy teaching the newcomers. Despite this slowing down of square production the final number of squares was 135, though admittedly many of these, along with two blankets were brought along already knitted. Quite a few people took away their squares to complete later at home and we also have more promises of blankets and squares from people who weren’t able to come but may come next time.
The next Knit and Knatter is July 27, same place but time to be arranged. It will be a shorter day than the last one and perhaps the start of something regular.
The squares and blankets will travel by air in suitcases to Dalaman Turkey in September and more will go out next year. From Dalaman they will be taken to the border camps and when winter comes they will be much needed.
April 19 2016 (from Rosie Simpson)
Yes please to the craft materials. etc. We will find a way to get the stuff out here and to those in need. Every day we hear of more families trying to settle down here needing help and assistance.Current situation locally. “We” (the group that has been involved for a while now) are in touch with approx 100 people (all in families) in the area. These have been here from several years to one month. They are aware of the presence of quite a few others locally but they are not yet in touch, and are probably transient. The ones “we” are in touch with live in very poor quality rented accommodation (several families crammed into a small apartment for which the Landlord is over charging approx £250 per month . A small number have work (agricultural labourers, though in Syria they are from all walks of life) and inevitably are paid about half the minimum wage (the legal min wage is £425 per month approx) They are also having to pay too much for their accommodation
Probably none of them are in this region legally. To be legal they should have registered at a camp near the border and then re registered where they go if they leave a camp. However very few are legally able to register outside a camp. The Provincial Authorities are seeking to have the whole area designated as a Tourist area and therefore not suitable for refugees and could easily take action in future to evict them . The local council seem prepared to “turn a blind eye” as long as attention is not drawn to them. hence the reason why many avoid contact with other people as much as possible
Assistance is therefore pretty much limited officially to individual acts of kindness and can not officially be organised ,and in any case fund raising can only be done by a registered charity
Over the winter a great deal of “kindness” has been given and their needs for food and clothing have by and large been met . The refugees themselves do not of course want charity. The men want to work, provide for their families here for as long as necessary and then return to Syria when possible.
The focus for the group now is to try to improve their quality of life ,and in particular attempt to provide education/stimulus for the children , and some comforts in the homes (beds, cookers, fridges, and heating next winter.)
MANY MANY THANKS
Pete and Rosie
[Mary and Anthony Brown are going out on June 7 with Pete Simpson, and his daughter Katie is going out during May – that is a few more suitcases]
10 April 2016
From Rosie Simpson
Today I went to visit the families in to distribute the goodies to all. To say that they were excited and appreciative is an understatement. The knitted dolls were the favourite amongst the children, The families have managed to get some rented property at over inflated prices and which is extremely substandard. The monies that has been donated is being used to buy food, and basic equipment to cook the food on or with such as pans, plates etc. We were given lots of clothing too which we gave to the group to share out, which they did with alacrity and a sense of fairness. Best jumble sale I have ever been to!
Because some of them have been able to secure rented accommodation a few of the children have been enrolled into schools, which will be really useful to them whilst they are displaced.
We are debating on how to set up the craft sessions with the children.
Thanks so much for all your support, will let you know what we do with your money, it is illegal apparently to give money, but it is ok to buy them what they need. So far donated money has been used to buy second hand cooker hobs, fridges and even washing machines, beds and bedding and carpets as the houses all have concrete floors. I will be advised by those who visit regularly and report back when we have purchased something with your money.
I cannot express how grateful I am for your interest and support
A million thanks
From Pete and Rosie Simpson’s facebook: Had to book another bag for the plane, thanks to our lovely friends Anthony and Mary Brown bringing over loads of goodies for the Syrian refugees, They have canvassed friends who have donated wool, knitting needles, knitted toys, baby clothes and crochet blankets as well as a financial contribution towards food. Feeling very humble to know such fantastic people, Even with an extra case we still could not fit it all in and some will have to come out on next trip