Town finds unique way to help refugees with handbag appeal

    Becky Jones and Lou Fenlon with the donations

    AN APPEAL for handbags filled with practical items for female refugees has got off to a swinging start.

    The idea for a collection in the town was originally put forward by Faydra Mitchell, a leading member of Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees. She took the inspiration from a project in Crowborough, which launched two weeks ago.

    Within just a few days of proposing the idea online, she was inundated with positive feedback by those eager to help out.

    “So many people want to help with refugees but it’s hard to know what to do so I think it’s good to give them something specific to do like this.

    “Lots of women have got a spare handbag so I’ve asked for people to fill it with sanitary items, clean pants, hairbrushes, just bits and pieces that are practical. Essentially, things any women would want in their handbag,” she said.

    Last Thursday [March 9] The Bakehouse at 124, allowed their top floor to be used as a collection point.

    Over the course of the morning, more than 30 bags filled with useful items were donated. One generous lady, Jane Hood, handed over seven herself.

    “I’m overwhelmed by the response to this appeal. The bags were packed with such thoughtful gifts, and with such care. I can’t thank everyone enough. The Tonbridge Community never cease to amaze me with their kindness,” said Mrs Mitchell.

    The bags will be sent to Hope and Aid Direct, a charity which focuses on delivering humanitarian aid. They will be shipped to Greece, where thousands of refugees remain in poorly equipped camps. The next shipment is likely to be in July.

    Leilani Mitchell, who started the handbag appeal in Crowborough, said: “I have been amazed at the response. Many woman really identify with the importance of having a handbag, which of course is not about the bag but about having somewhere that holds all sorts of important things for you in once place.”

    If you wish to donate a bag, you can drop it off at Ray Goodwin Photography, 195 High Street or contact Faydra Mitchell on 07846238925 or via Facebook to arrange a collection.