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Bus load of books

08 August 2014

WHEN Sharen Ravat (second from right), who has set up a multifaith charity in Leicester to help Syrian refugees, launched an appeal in Leicester for children's books, the response was a bus load. The drop-in centre was St Philip's Church Hall, and thousands of picture books and "easy readers" were donated by individuals and organisations from different faith communities.

It was virtually a repeat of last year's toy collection for Syria, when an estimated 10,000 toys came through the doors. The UN has called the situation in Syria the worst humanitarian crisis since the massacre in Rwanda two decades ago, and the Assistant Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Christopher Boyle (in photo), says: "In any situation of extreme conflict, the vulnerable always suffer."

"This was a monumental collection with so many generous people donating," Ms Ravat says. "Books are simple items which can provide learning, comfort, and hope at a time of despair. The people of Leicestershire have contributed to putting smiles on the faces of thousands of children. The event brought together many of our faith and belief communities for a humanitarian cause."

Bishop Boyle said that he was delighted and excited by the response. "The book collection helps to keep the profile of Syria in people's minds. By being staged at St Philip's Church,this interfaith effort was a symbol of Leicester at its best." The books have been given to the UK-based charity Hand in Hand, which will transport them to Syria for distribution to the children in hospitals and refugee camps.

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