'IF we turn our backs, we lose our humanity'. That is the message from a support group 'happy to help' refugees in Furness.

Furness Refugee Support was formed at a meeting in a pub called by Furness artist Ellie Chaney in 2015, just after the picture of the body of three-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi, face down on a Greek beach, shocked the world.

In the six years since, the group has sent countless vanloads of donations of clothes and other goods to Syria and Greece, as well an estimated £40,000.

The group drives the donations of clothes and other goods collected in Furness to Manchester, where another charity, Care UK Charity Chorlton, ships them off in containers.

"We are not currently collecting as we are not able to send goods to refugee camps in Europe, due to challenges connected with Brexit and Covid," said retired GP John Brice, the group's treasurer and another founding member.

"We may be able to send donations of clothes, etc, to Manchester in the near future but at the moment all our storage is full."

As families started to arrive in 2017, the group supported them whilst continuing to collect donations for refugees abroad.

As well as supplying the families necessities - either bought or donated - the group supports them with things like official appointments, preparing CVs, sorting out housing problems and getting a driving licence and lessons.

The people of Furness have been largely warm and welcoming - but a few families have, sadly, faced hostility.

"It's mainly due to ignorance," said retired journalist and teacher Harry Brunskill, another founder member.

"A few people have said we should 'look after our own' but as people of goodwill - of all faiths and none - would agree, they're all our own.

"With funding from government, via local councils, everyone could be fed and housed. Who would begrudge a few pence on income tax?

"It's a pity and a shame that some people blame others who are worse off than them for their problems.

"But the members of Furness Refugee Support - now totalling 947 - are happy to help.

"There is no doubt that the number of refugees worldwide will increase due to the climate crisis - the Arab Spring, which led to the war in Syria, started because of an increase in the price of bread after years of drought, which is now also affecting sub-Saharan Africa.

"But if we turn our backs, we lose our humanity. And to survive the climate crisis, it can't be 'us' and 'them' - it has to be just 'us'."

Anyone who wants to help is asked to go to the Facebook page Furness Refugee Volunteers.

People can donate to Furness Refugee Support, sort code 20-04-68, account number 33893596.

The group's next fundraiser is a music and quiz night at the Hope and Anchor, Ulverston, on Friday October 29, featuring all-women group Zoleka, Kathryn Bell, Karen Bell and duo Mickey Finn.