Original article from Kent Live
Kent has already shown strong support for Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban by offering up hotel rooms and organising candlelit vigils.
Many residents are keen to help those in crisis but are unsure where to start.
Kind-hearted residents have generously offered donations to those in need but now Kent refugee charities have warned they're at risk of becoming overwhelmed by donations.
Many charities have proposed alternative methods of helping those in need, which won't put added pressure on already overstretched resources.
KentLive has compiled a list of the best ways you can help to support refugees escaping Afghanistan.
Check charity websites before you donate
There are a range of local charities working both on the ground in Afghanistan and in Kent to help refugees fleeing conflict, including Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN), Kent Refugee Help, Kent Kindness, and Care 4 Calais.
Many people are keen to support the charities by offering donations of unwanted items, but this may put more pressure on small organisations.
This sentiment was reiterated by Bridget Chapman, of KRAN, who wrote a handy guide on how to help.
She said: "Pulling together clothes and other supplies is worthy, but you may be collecting/donating stuff that no one arriving actually needs.
"Rather than contact overstretched charities to ask what's needed, try taking a look at their website and social media to see if there are any specific requests."
KRAN do not have the capacity for storing and distributing items, so they only ask for items that they need at that specific moment.
Other refugee charities follow a similar policy, so it is worth double checking charity websites before you turn up with your donations.
The Afghan resettlement scheme has been described as "fluid", so many charities don't know what's needed as of yet.
Refugee charities are also swamped with inquiries right now and have kindly asked people to stop emailing and calling to ask what they need, as it takes their time away from supporting those people in crisis.
People are encouraged to consult google before contacting busy charities and share the information they find to prevent others doing the same.
Canterbury City Council recently posted a notice on their website asking people to stop donating items for Afghan nationals.
They said: "Since announcing our involvement in two projects to support Afghan nationals this week, we have had many people offering to donate clothes, toys and bedding, or to volunteer their time to help.
"This comes as absolutely no surprise to us – Canterbury district has a long history of the community coming forward to help the most vulnerable people and stepping up to support those in the greatest need.
"We want to say a massive thank you for the compassion you have all shown.
"However, we need to be completely clear that at the current time, we are not looking for this kind of help."
Only donate quality items
Refugee charities have requested that people only donate items of a good quality.
KRAN worker Bridget said: "Everyone deserves dignity. When you are sure about what's needed please only collect items that you would be happy to receive yourself."
According to humanitarian charity MercyCorps, the most useful items for refugees fleeing crisis are food, such as pasta, cooking oil and milk, clean cooking utensils and dishes, new hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes and razors, and newborn supplies, including bottles, blankets, nappies and formula.
Ask refugees what they need
Lots of people have been offering to donate food to refugee families due to concerns they are not eating enough.
Whilst this generosity is appreciated, refugee charities are encouraging people to speak to asylum-seeking families where possible, to find out what they need.
Bridget added: "It's admirable that people want to help but that family may have specific things they need.
"Try asking new neighbours what they need rather than deciding for them what they will be given.
"It may be that your support with negotiating British bureaucracy is far more valuable to them than a tin of baked beans."
Bridget also advised people to avoid donating homemade items which might not actually be useful to families in crisis.
She said: "Your hobby isn't always the best way of supporting people.
"It's great you want to help and that you enjoy knitting/crocheting/baking etc. but if no one actually needs the things you're making ask yourself who you're really doing it for?
"Perhaps think about selling the items that you make and donating the money to a charity instead."
Regular cash donations
Refugee charities have been making desperate plea for cash donations, as some needs cannot be met by donations of items.
KRAN is currently raising money for mental health support for young people traumatised by the recent events in Afghanistan.
While any donation is welcome, small, regular donations are preferred as they can help charities to know how much money they have coming in.
Charities usually have an option to donate on their website, offering regular direct debit payments or one-off donations.
In a statement on their website Canterbury City Council said the best way to help at this stage is to make financial donations to refugee charities such as Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) and Canterbury Welcomes Refugees.
Offer your spare room to a refugee
Both charities and councils have requested that people with a spare room in their house offer it up to a refugee.
Initial placements are usually for short periods to give the host and guest a chance to get used to the situation.
Charity workers have stressed that registering your interest isn’t a commitment to taking in an Afghan refugee.
A spokesperson for Canterbury City Council said: "A number of families from Afghanistan arrived in Canterbury over the weekend and our team and hotel staff are working hard to help them settle in as quickly as possible.
"It is a fluid situation as some families have moved on already.
"We are assessing the needs of the new arrivals including dealing with any health concerns.
"For the time being, those that have arrived have everything they need.
"While we are immensely grateful for all of the offers of donations, we do not need them at the moment but we'll be quick to appeal for help if that situation changes.