Baptist church focal point for Afghan refugee donations
Emsworth Baptist Church in Hampshire opened its building to be a donation point for items for Afghan refugees
The church responded to a request from Ems4Afghans, a newly formed organisation created by RAF veteran and local resident Matt Simmons. Matt was an airframe technician working on Chinook helicopters and was one of the first detachment of engineers to arrive in Afghanistan.
On hearing of the Taliban returning to power and the UK Government’s subsequent decision to welcome Afghan refugees, Matt wanted to do something to help.
His organisation supports other agencies and Afghan refugees, and one of its aims was to gather essential items for those arriving in the UK. He approached the Baptist church to see if it could act as a donation point – and they were only too happy to help.
People responded enthusiastically, with thousands of items passing through the church building, which has also served as a vaccination centre this year. The donations were subsequently sorted by around 20 volunteers before being transported to a hub at Fareham on 6 September.
Emsworth’s senior pastor Joel Ferreira said, ‘When approached by Matt Simmons, we knew that Ems4Afghan was a cause we would like to be involved in. It was a way for us to help support refugees fleeing from Afghanistan and also fulfil our mission to reach those in need.
‘Having been a Covid vaccination centre for the past nine months with more than 22,000 people coming through our doors, we were delighted to continue serving our community with our premises as we seek to show the love of Jesus for all.’
In an article in The Portsmouth News, Matt explained how he felt a huge sense of duty to help. ‘We owe it to the Afghan citizens that have helped us all these years. Now is our time to support them as evacuees.’
The story featured the church’s caretaker Mal Sturgess alongside Matt and volunteer Liberty Rose.
Matt said, ‘It really is becoming something amazing and everyone is pulling together to help provide support in any way we can.'