Rotary club raises more than £11,000 for ShelterBox

Community mission to help people displaced by conflict or disaster

06 September 2022

Press release - 06 September 2022


Members of a Rotary Club in Hertfordshire have overcome the challenges of fundraising during a pandemic to raise more than £11,000 for the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox. The charity provides emergency shelter and other essential items to people across the world who have lost their homes to conflict or disaster.

It comes as ShelterBox launches an emergency fundraising appeal to help people in Pakistan after deadly flash floods devastated large parts of the country, affecting 33 million people.

The charity has an emergency response team in Pakistan working to get emergency shelter aid to thousands of people left with nowhere to live. Around one million houses have been damaged or destroyed, leaving behind millions of people in need of urgent shelter. ShelterBox’s aid will include tents, water filters and carriers, mosquito nets, and solar lights.

Inspired by the charity’s work, the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse and its 2020/21 president Bob Harris set out to raise £11,800 – the equivalent of 20 ShelterBoxes to coincide with the charity’s 20th anniversary. The club’s [email protected] challenge was led by Rotarians Stella Far and Susan Downie.

Stella Farr says: “The pandemic brought it home just how priceless it is to have a safe place called home to retreat to when the outside world was deemed a dangerous place.

“ShelterBox means helping to make that a reality for those in the most challenging of situations. We endured a pandemic, others had so much more to contend with.”

Undeterred by the pandemic, the club adapted its fundraising to reach its target. As well as being generously supported by Rotary members, local businesses, and the local Scout Group, the club also launched its Tea in a Tent fundraiser. Community members were encouraged to hold coffee mornings and afternoons outside in a tent to help raise crucial funds.

Stella adds: “Tents are synonymous with ShelterBox’s support in global disasters and Tea in a Tent was born out of desperation. As the pandemic and the restrictions continued, meeting outside under shelter became the only safe way to socialise.

“Our normal fundraising avenues were not available to us, but we were determined to reach the target we had promised ourselves and ShelterBox with our [email protected] campaign.”

Fiona Turner is ShelterBox’s Rotary Engagement Officer. She says: “ShelterBox has helped more than two million people across 98 countries and relies heavily on public donations to fund its responses across the world.

“Millions of families are currently living without adequate shelter after disaster, and it’s support from community groups like the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse that helps ShelterBox better meet the needs of the people who need support.

“In the face of the coronavirus crisis, shelter means more than ever and although we are well known for our ShelterBoxes we no longer provide aid only in boxes, instead providing combinations of aid, packaged in a variety of ways to make a tangible difference.”

As well as Pakistan, ShelterBox is currently helping people affected by the war in Ukraine, the severe and ongoing drought in East Africa, and recently provided aid to 100,000 people in the Philippines after Typhoon Rai ripped through island communities.

A tarpaulin is the difference between a family staying dry in their makeshift home or not. Solar lights help families spend time together when electricity supply is impacted. A mosquito net helps families worry less about their children’s health in areas known to have malaria or dengue fever.

And cash assistance, like that used in Ukraine, the Philippines and following the earthquake that hit Haiti last August, empowers local communities to hire skilled labour or buy the materials they need to rebuild their houses.

Stella and fellow club members are hoping to inspire other Rotary clubs to host Tea in a Tent events for ShelterBox and have big ambitions to scale up the event.

Stella says: “Our Club will continue to support the work that ShelterBox do but would really love to see Tea in a Tent become a nationally recognised event.

“Doing so will further the great partnership that already exists between Rotary and ShelterBox as not only local clubs host events, but, we hope, the wider public too, gathering momentum over the years as a legacy event post pandemic.

Tea in a Tent events are easy to arrange, low cost and a great way to get friends and family together, even without a pandemic.”

ShelterBox became Rotary’s formal project partner in disaster relief in 2012, which this year was renewed for a further three years to help support more people, in more places, in more ways.

  • £60 can fund a shelter kit that provides the essentials families need to start rebuilding homes straight away.
  • £11 can fund a solar light that can be used by families for work, education, or simply moving around at night.
  • £7 can fund a blanket that provides vital warmth, but comfort too when families are recovering from disaster.

For more information about ShelterBox visit shelterbox.org.

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