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Generous community offers help to people seeking asylum in Crystal Palace

Local mum Celeste Nelson (with her daughter Mirabelle) joins Salvation Army representatives in handing over donated toys to Queen's Hotel staff

Generous Southeast Londoners provided practical aid to people who are seeking asylum and are accommodated at the Queen’s Hotel, Crystal Palace, in a response co-ordinated by Upper Norwood Salvation Army.

As online local forums raised the issue of how best to help those seeking asylum, church leader Captain Lorraine Kinnear suggested Upper Norwood Salvation Army co-ordinate a community response – offers of support soon flooded in.

She said: ‘When our community heard about people being accommodated at the Queen’s Hotel, and in particular that there were children there needing support, they wanted to do something. After liaising with the hotel, we decided to provide clothes, toys and books for the children, who had arrived in the UK with very few possessions.’

Sandrine Levy spotted a Facebook post from Lorraine asking local mothers to support the children at the hotel – she volunteered to help and made a donation. ‘It was an amazing, positive way for our community to come together and to support the children who had so little. We’re all local mums so we’re inclined to help when it comes to children, either by giving our time or donations.’

Lorraine and her husband, Captain Michael Kinnear, received generous donations from the community – from pairs of shoes for a small child who had none to providing toys, games and books – which they took to the hotel for its residents.

As the church building is en route to the town centre, the ministers have also received visits from Queen’s Hotel residents – there they have received a friendly welcome and been invited to take part in the church’s community activities, to pray or to chat.

Items donated by the community

Captain Kinnear said: ‘We packed bags for the children at our church building with community volunteers – there was a real feeling of community spirit. We have been totally overwhelmed by everyone’s desire to help out.

‘As a church and charity, we are dedicated to providing support to people who are vulnerable or in need in the community, offering practical help and compassionate support without discrimination. This week, our community has epitomised this as we worked together.’