Mid Ulster community pulls together to help refugees fleeing Syria

Council chair Linda Dillon with Judith Mullen who's organising a Halloween fundraising disco at the Glenavon for refugees
Council chair Linda Dillon with Judith Mullen who's organising a Halloween fundraising disco at the Glenavon for refugees

The plight of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria has touched the hearts of Mid Ulster people with many across the district doing their bit to help.

On top of the organisation of numerous collection points and fundraisers in the area, community members have begun planning future events such as the Syria Red Cross Appeal Halloween Fundraiser at the Glenavon.

The brainchild of local woman Judith Mullen, the October 29 fancy dress event costs £3, is on from 6-9pm and has the support of council chair Linda Dillon, who has promised to donate part of her chairperson’s allowance.

Mid Ulster District Council has also agreed to Sinn Fein’s request for a special meeting this Thursday “to discuss the humanitarian and refugee crisis unfolding across Europe and the Middle East” and “identify practical measures” it can take to help.

Draperstown women Brenda Brady and Annette Scott forged links with An Carn, STEPS and also set up their own Facebook page in relation to the crisis, through which they have organised various collection points for public donations. For details call 07514 481580.

While STEP Dungannon is calling for Mid Ulster to take in its fair share of refugees - one family in every village or two in every town. The community group has also set up a dedicated Community Action for Refugees line and is asking anyone who wishes to help, to contact them on 028 8774 1960.

Some locals have been asking why we couldn’t house refugee families in empty church convents in the larger towns or in buildings such as the now closed Rural College Draperstown, which between them could accommodate hundreds of families.

Dungannon mum Olivia Espie is fundraising for refugees in memory of her little boy - who drowned.

Human rights activist John Hurson plans to drive to Calais with his cousin Adrian Murphy and a van full of aid.

“I can’t sit and do nothing as thousands of people fleeing wars are just a day’s drive away in Calais,” he said.

“This is the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.”