Sunvil chair Noel Josephides revealed to TTG that last week he petitioned the government to fly refugees from the Greek island of Samos, although he conceded the Home Office was unlikely to agree to the proposal.
“We made a suggestion to the government… as we have around 200 empty inbound seats on our flights back to Gatwick as we come to the end of our summer season,” he said.
“The Home Office said thank you and we’ll let you know, but I’m not very hopeful. The government has now said it won’t take people who are already in Europe, and we made our offer before they made that announcement,” he said.
“We would like to bring refugees to the UK in a bit of comfort after all they have been through. Our reps have been trying to help the refugees over the last year and a half – they have been asking customers if they want to leave behind any clothing for them before they fly back to the UK.
“We want to try and help out these people if we can. There are quite a few refugees on Samos, but you only really hear about what’s going on in Kos, and we don’t go to Kos.”
It comes as travel agents also rallied to do their bit to help refugees of the Syrian war, as they urged others in the industry to also join in the relief effort.
Shona Lyons of Twickenham-based Crusader Travel organised a collection for charity CalAid, which offers humanitarian assistance for refugees in Calais.
“Just watching the news over the last few weeks I just really felt really desperate for the people it’s just so distressing…” she told TTG.
“I thought I would try and encourage people in my area to bring things they needed to our travel agency and then we could make a big collection [and] we could get it all driven up to London.”
Crusader Travel in Twickenham which has been collecting for the charity CalAid to help refugees in Calais
Lyons’ first collection was sent out at the weekend but she said she would be doing another one for delivery on September 18-19.
She also urged other travel companies to get involved. “I think that one of the tour operators should try and charter planes and we should take them places… if we can do it for holiday makers we can do it for our fellow human beings, who are struggling.”
As reported on Tuesday, Anna Howard, a homeworker for Hays Travel, is also collecting items such as clothing, shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap. She has also set up a Just Giving page to raise money to fund a lorry to transport vital supplies to the Greek island of Kos.
“I decided that I couldn't sit back and ignore it anymore and I needed to do my part in making a difference to their lives,” she said.
“[We’re collecting] things that are going to give them just the tiniest bit of dignity, [so] that they can get up and put something clean on, or clean their teeth; things that we take for granted.”
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of people. £10 is a bottle of wine for most people but it just makes such a difference to refugees.”
Howard is working with charity Kos Kindness, which will take delivery of the aid convoy.
To donate, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/anna-howard