Monday 18 December 2017

Donors give ‘jackets off their backs’ for refugees

Volunteers Kevin and Sue Kelly from the Jacket Off Your Back charity
Volunteers Kevin and Sue Kelly from the Jacket Off Your Back charity Newsdesk Newsdesk

A businessman who spent last winter sourcing clothes for the homeless has turned his attention to making 50,000 emergency packs for refugees and migrants on Europe's borders.

Kevin Kelly's Jacket Off Your Back campaign aims to send truckloads of supplies to Greece, Montenegro and Turkey as the winter months approach.

Operating out of a 3,000sq ft warehouse in Carlow, Kevin and his wife Sue (pictured) and a team of volunteers are filling packs with a sleeping bag, coat, fleece, thermals, socks, a shirt or T-shirt, a cap, scarf and sanitary products like a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Mr Kelly, who runs a fire and flood restoration business, said the crisis that is already on Europe's borders will be compounded as hundreds of thousands more people try to flee refugee camps this winter.

"People on the move are unprepared," he said. "It's a bit like history repeating itself - it happened in the world wars and it happened during the Balkan wars of the '90s.

"People are starting to walk now from the Syrian and Turkish borders. "In six or seven weeks they'll get into northern Turkey and face more turbulent waters to get to Greece and then the weather will close in over the Balkans. They will be freezing and they will die from hypothermia."

A hundred volunteers have gathered parcels and brought them to Carlow for the emergency packs to be prepared for delivery in six weeks' time.

Hundreds of sleeping bags were donated by revellers as they left the Electric Picnic festival on Monday.

Irish Independent

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