Fashion designer sells vintage clothes to raise money in support of refugees

By Regina Motalib
[email protected]A fashion designer for top brands has raised more than £3,300 for refugees after finding herself on holiday where desperate families were landing on beaches in boats.

The plight of hundreds of migrants was brought home to Hannah Charalambous from Sydenham – who designs clothes for high street brand FatFace and Boden – when she was on holiday in Kent during a peak for cross-channel landing.

The mother-of-two, who is also a personal trainer, said: “I was talking to my clients and thinking of a way to make good use of all the clothes we have at home but never got much wear out of because of the pandemic.”

Hannah, from De Frene Road, Sydenham and her friends initially decided to do a clothes swap – but instead they decided to put on a vintage clothes fair at the Perry Hill pub in Catford and donate the proceeds to Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network.

The clothes for sale.

The Deptford-based charity they set out to help supports asylum seekers and refugee families who are destitute and homeless – and get no public funds.

She was proud that Lewisham is the first London borough to have been recognised as a “Council of Sanctuary” by the national charity City of Sanctuary.

She said:  “To get on a flimsy boat and risk your life demonstrates the level  of  desperation  felt  by  these  people. I realised we all needed to do whatever we could to help refugees.

“I was thinking about all the unloved clothes and shoes that were probably in great condition but in need of new homes.”

After a short family break in Kent she decided selling the clothes for charity would be much more beneficial.

She said: “The day before we arrived, a boat carrying refugees had just arrived in the area. Around the same time, people were trying to get out of Afghanistan. This all just made it feel so real and local.”

Hannah is passionate about sustainability and making clothes last.  She said: “I discussed the idea of a clothes swap with some other local mums who are my personal trainer clients.

“We were all very moved by the refugees crossing the Channel and the Afghans desperate to flee the Taliban and wanted to do anything we could to support them.

“This borough has a proud history of supporting migrants and refugees. We are delighted to say the sale was a great success.

“We raised more than £3,300. So many small businesses had donated prizes for the raffle and the Perry Hill pub gave us a great venue free of charge. It felt like a real community event.”

Hera Lorandos, fundraising, campaigns and communications manager at Lewisham Migrant and Refugee Network said: “I just wanted to say a general massive thank you for your fundraising efforts.

“Every penny is really vital for our work and will go towards helping destitute and vulnerable refugees and migrants build their lives.”

Pictured:  The event organisers outside the Perry Hill pub. They are, from left, Kate Phillimore, Katie Tilleke-Irvin, Hannah Charalambous, Diana Hawk. Below, the clothes for sale.  Pictures: Luke Charalambous



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