Outpouring of love and support in Surrey for Afghan families arriving in Britain

It started with one man sending an appeal on a Surrey village Facebook group for spare toiletries for Afghans arriving in the UK from Kabul with nothing. Within days it snowballed into an impressive community effort to help the stricken strangers. 

Steven Kershaw, a former police officer, had been working with the security teams in the UK's quarantine hotels, and this led him to the effort at the end of last week to help those fleeing Kabul as they arrived at Birmingham Airport. 

Steven was shocked to see that many of those arriving were families with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Some of the children didn't even have shoes. He said very little was in place to help them with their immediate and basic needs.

Back in Ashtead, Surrey - which is over 120 miles from Birmingham - Steven made his appeal on social media asking locals to drop donations at his home for his next trip to the airport the following day. As word spread, so did the number of donations.  

"It is unfair to keep asking for more," Steven said.

"But each face we see is a new one. Faces who are on the most horrendous of journeys, so if there is more that can be pledged, please do," he added.One of the village pubs stepped in to help, offering to help manage the bundles of donations which were piling up, while Steven was travelling hundreds of miles back and forth to the airport.

Local businesses brought their vans too to ferry essentials to Birmingham, before coming back for more.

Mid Surrey's Community Fridge also provided food, along with the dozens of locals who dropped off what they could, from nappies to toothpaste, to warm coats and snacks.

People with vans and estate cars, with time to give, also made the journey to transport supplies from Surrey to the Midlands.

Victoria Worley, who runs The Woodman pub, told me the response had been amazing.

Between running the pub and looking after her toddler, she has been sorting out the clothes and toys from the food.

Like so many here, she just wants to do something to help. An online donation page organised by Ashtead Rotary Club has now raised over £5,500 and it means the team can now hire vans and buy extra supplies as needed.

Today seven vehicles drove in convoy to a quarantine hotel at Heathrow, full of donated clothes to help the Afghans who will be staying there. 

Steven wasn't 100% sure if the sheer volume of donations would be welcome, but instead, he was asked to please bring more.

Steven's efforts mean thousands of Afghans in desperate need have been offered help and hope."I'm choked with people's generosity", he said, and for now, his drive to continue this mission shows no signs of slowing.