Ballyclare church responds to refugee crisis by collecting donations

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In response to the ongoing refugee crisis in mainland Europe, a donation point has been set up at St John’s Church of Ireland, Ballyclare.

As the situation has worsened over the past number of weeks, the local community in Newtownabbey have started collecting for the refugees. Similar drop-off points have been opened around the borough, with the collection point at St John’s in Ballyclare only being set up within the last few days.

Dr Olwen Purdue, a lecturer at Queen’s University in Belfast and organist at St John’s, is the coordinator for the collection point at the Doagh Road church.

“Queen’s started an appeal to collect donations for the refugees in Europe, and after discussing this with the rector of St John’s, it was decided that we could have a collection point at the church,” Dr Purdue said.

The collection point was only set up at the weekend, but has already received many generous donations.

Dr Purdue explained that it is an emergency response to the situation, and that they plan to organise a more structured response in the future.

“The current drop-off point at St John’s is a rushed response to the situation. We intend organising something more long-term, possibly working alongside the Bishop’s Appeal,” she said.

Dr Purdue has appealed for people to make use of the drop-off point in Ballyclare.

“Currently we are collecting donations of warm clothes, toiletries and blankets. These goods will then be taken to Queen’s this Saturday (September 19), where they will then be added to the collection there, and sent onto the refugees,” she added.

Dr Purdue has been overwhelmed by the response from the local community, and has thanked everyone who has offered their time to help the appeal.

“I have had a lot of people contacting me, including people who are not even members of the St John’s congregation, to say they would like to offer their time to help with the appeal. It just shows that there is a willingness to help from the wider Ballyclare community, which is really positive,” she said.

She thanked everyone who has made a donation to the appeal, and hopes that the wider community in Ballyclare will continue to support the drop-off point.

“A big thanks must go to all of the people who have made donations to the drop-off point so far, and I hope that the community will continue to make donations to us as the campaign continues,” she added.

The drop-off point at St John’s is open 10am - 12pm each day until September 18.