11 January, 2021 - By Leyla Williams

Opening ‘The Shop’

Opening ‘The Shop’

After many days of our amazing volunteers sweating away, we and Care4Calais are proud to announce the opening of ‘The Shop’!

A collaboration between West London Welcome and Care4Calais, The Shop is a clothesbank in a storefront for asylum seeking people living in nearby temporary hotel accommodation in West London. Our asylum seeking neighbours in hotels, which include many families with babies and small children, are in dire need of clothes and other essentials given that they arrive in the country often only with the clothes on their backs. Once here, they survive only on airplane-style meals in their hotels, and are given only £8 per week by the Home Office, or in many cases no money at all. They’re banned from working, so can’t earn any money of their own. We will be supporting up to 600 local asylum seeking people in hotels with clothes, shoes, toiletries, books, toys, luggage, phones and other donations over the next month through The Shop.

The Shop was born thanks to one of our Labour councillors in Hammersmith, Councillor David Morton. We wrote to David to ask if there might be a local space we could use to help asylum seeking people with a clothesbank, and he wrote to Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The Council quickly offered us an empty local storefront. Once we’d secured this space, West London Welcome and Care4Calais partnered up and organised call-outs for donations and local volunteers to help with The Shop through both our networks. This collaboration has worked very well, since we’ve been able to reach many more volunteers and bring in many more donations than we ever would have as individual organisations – and we’ve been able to make the most of West London Welcome being deeply embedded in the Hammersmith community.

Joanne MacInnes, our Director, said of The Shop opening: ‘It’s been fantastic to partner with Care4Calais and open The Shop. It’s already proving to be an incredibly effective way of ensuring local asylum seeking people have the clothes, toiletries and other essential items they need to survive through the winter months. Until now, many of these highly vulnerable people, including families with babies, only had the clothes they first arrived here in. We’re also able to pick up on the profound challenges facing these asylum seekers as we meet them at The Shop, and find ways of supporting them through these.’

The Shop will be open until the end of January, with a possible extension.

We’re currently looking for working, wiped smartphones for newly arrived asylum seeking people at The Shop. If you have any to donate, please email hello@westlondonwelcome.com