A POPULAR Saddleworth café is at the centre of a community fundraising appeal to help refugee mums and pregnant women who have fled to Europe from Middle East danger zones.
Sophie Heywood, manager of Station Brew in Greenfield, has been inspired by the work of charity CRIBS International, co-founded by Springhead woman Sally Hyman.
CRIBS acquires flats and apartments in Athens to keep families together and ensure mothers and their babies have a safe place to live.
Despite the registered charity’s best efforts demand outstrips supply for these temporary but secure homes.
Having witnessed the cramped and diseased conditions in Greek refugee camps for herself, Sophie has now pledged to help lessen the risk for mums-to-be and their offspring.
She and Sally hope the refugees’ plight will encourage people to make small but regular donations towards the CRIBS aid mission and one family in particular.
Roshni and Yussuf are the children of a Kurdish family who escaped persecution in Syria and Iraq only to end up in a dangerous squat in Athens where local mafia operated.
Thanks, however, to the work of Sally and CRIBS, they have a flat in which to bring up their youngsters.
“We have a lot of caring people in our community who really do want to help in some way,” explained Sophie.
“But they don’t feel they know how to. This is a direct way. 100 per-cent of the money will go to this family.
“I know it is a massive issue and people feel overwhelmed and think there is nothing we can do to help.
“But there is and this would make a world of difference to this family.
“Funding is so tight and such a huge need.
“What we want to do is try and take the pressure off a bit and know we have done that together as a community.
“Donate what you can and spread the word. The crisis is still very much there.”
Everyone who donates can write their names and messages of support on a family tree attached to the wall.
A target of £600 a month has been set to cover the costs of rent, bills, food and other essentials.
Sally established CRIBS in 2016 after working as a volunteer in a Greek refugee camp.
“I was shocked and heartbroken by what I saw,” she said.
“People who had already taken huge risks to reach Europe were existing in terrible conditions.
“There were snakes, mosquitos, even wild boars. There were four showers for 200 people and to be sent back there after having a caesarean section was just dreadful.
“One woman I met had had five caesarean sections. I just thought this is not acceptable. This is not how we treat people who are fellow human beings.
“That was when Cribs started. We started with one flat, we now have eight flats in Athens.
“They provide the ‘basics’ which we sometimes take for granted: a shower, a kitchen, and a safe place for mothers and their babies. A chance for a life to begin with a little bit of decency.
“However, we have to restrict it because the need is huge.
“We want people to commit to funding a certain amount of money each month.
“One-off donations are great but what we need is people to say ‘yes, I will give a certain amount each month’.
“£10 will pay rent for one day, £20 will cover rent and food for one day.
“If we can get 30 people to agree then this family is safe and secure.”
To help you can donate online: mydonate.bt.com/charities/cribsinternational and quote ‘Family Tree’.