The Aid Together project
Building bridges and friendships, breaking down stereotypes, and enabling people to feel stronger and more empowered, so that they can move from dependence to independence.
From discard to new life
The Together Plan’s Aid Together project collects, sorts, packs and transports approximately 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid and resources each year to its communities in the former Soviet Union.
Our dedicated team of volunteers in London collect, sort and pack the humanitarian aid. The donated items come from individuals and a variety of other sources including synagogues. The aid comprises items such as clothes, shoes, toys, stationery, computers and educational resources.
The beneficiaries include people in extreme financial difficulty, elderly and disabled people. Many people exist on a meagre income, even if they are in work. For single parents or families with many children, among other groups, this extra support can be a lifeline.
Sponsor an aid shipment
It costs £3000 to send a lorry to Belarus. Help us to sustain this vital project!
Donate unwanted goods
We love good quality new and used clothes, shoes, stationery and equipment for community centres.
Join our packing team
Our lovely team of packers and drivers are always looking for new faces
We’re now at the Belgian border, thanks to you…
It costs us £3000 to send a lorry packed with humanitarian aid on the 1350-mile journey from London to Minsk. That’s £2.20 per mile. And we have to raise this figure once every six months or so.
We’re calling on you, our supporters, to help us send our next lorry on this week-long voyage. For just £2.20 per mile you can be proud to say that you paid for a small part of the journey. Whether that’s from London to the Belgian border or just a block or two! We’re hoping to send our next lorry in October or November, depending on how soon we acquire enough aid.
We currently accept donations online through BT MyDonate; The Together Plan receive 100% of all donations (less card charges). Simply put ‘Lorry Sponsorship’ in the ‘personalised message’ box and we’ll do the maths. If you’d prefer to pay by another method, please let us know.
Seeking donations of humanitarian aid
We are very grateful for donations of any of the following:
- Good quality clothes and shoes for all ages
- Sheets, towels and pillowcases in excellent condition only
- Toys and board games (with minimal English)
- Stationery and supplies for arts & crafts activities
- Sports equipment (e.g. balls, bats, hoops, cones)
- Computers and printers (in working order)
- Knitted or crocheted blankets
- Judaica (candlesticks, chanukiyot, kippot, tallitot, challah covers)
- Furniture (especially: folding tables, stackable chairs, partition screens)
- Medical equipment (walking sticks, crutches, zimmer frames, etc.)
- Musical instruments
We have drop-off points at Finchley Reform Synagogue and Hendon Reform Synagogue during working hours. For addresses and contact details see their websites. We are sometimes able to collect items within North London; if you require a collction please get in touch and we can arrange this.
Unfortunately we are unable to accept the following: pillows, duvets, curtains, rugs, cushions, personalised clothing and uniforms, home-made knitwear, ethnic clothing.
The Aid Together packing team needs your help
We run “Chat n’ Pack” sessions every Tuesday between 10am and 1pm at Hendon Reform Synagogue. Our team of lovely volunteers always welcomes new members with coffee, biscuits and great conversation, all while providing a crucial service to disadvantaged communities in Belarus. We’d love to welcome you to one of our sessions!
If packing isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can help:
- Join a knitting group: We receive a large number of donations of knitted items, ranging from crocheted squares which can be sewed together into blankets, to handmade teddy bears. We are always delighted to receive donations from individuals. Alternatively, we collaborate with knitting groups in London and Manchester; you might be interested in joining one or starting your own.
- Be a volunteer driver: We would love to hear from you if you can help transport donations for us.
- Donate space: We are always on the look out for locations for sorting, packing and storing humanitarian aid – empty garages and warehouses are especially valuable. As the owner of an empty commercial property, you benefit from our presence with added security and a reduction in business rates (due to a non-profit occupying the building).
If you would like to get involved in any capacity, we would be delighted to have your support. For more information, please contact our project coordinator Lucille at email@example.com.
Aid as a Tool for Self-Sufficiency
All our projects are designed to help communities to become self-sufficient, and the Aid Together project is no exception. We know from our experience in the field that simply giving out humanitarian aid risks creating a culture of dependency, where
- Aid is distributed to communities, who, with our support, take responsibility for ensuring that it reaches those individuals with greatest need and and exercising proper oversight and compliance with local law. Additionally, a large proportion of donations – such as furniture, toys, games, stationery and technology – are given to community centres, where they are used to facilitate a wide range of cultural, educational and social projects for community members of all ages.
- We encourage participants in the Aid Together project to engage with community life as part of the aid project. For example, community members help with unloading the lorry on its arrival in Belarus, unpacking the boxes of aid in their community centres, and facilitating the distribution of aid.
- Once participants are engaged with their community, we encourage them to participate in and even take on responsibility for other community projects. This might involve giving reading with children at Sunday School, or helping to run a community programme.
- Everyone, even most vulnerable members of society, can give something back to the community. For example, a wheelchair user who cannot visit the community centre can give something back by opening their home to others. Through this, guests will learn what his or her life is like, enabling them to better relate to that individual. We help people to see the possibilities and to make them into a reality.
The Aid Together project is also having a huge impact, here in the UK, supporting communities of all types from volunteer groups to knitting circles, and helping these people to find a new purpose in their lives. Here are some of the ways we’re making a difference to UK community life:
- The project serves as a recycling programme in the UK. Donations of unwanted items find new homes and give rise to vibrant community life, rather than ending up in landfill.
- It creates volunteering opportunities in the UK. For our team of volunteers, it provides a weekly social opportunity to connect with like-minded people, and gives them a highly rewarding project to devote themselves to and find purpose in.
- It has given rise to knitting and social groups in the UK. Members of these groups knit blankets, scarves, hats and gloves specifically to be sent to recipients in Belarus. These groups are a valuable social opportunity for older people in the UK.
- It helps people in times of bereavement, by offering an opportunity for a loved one’s possessions to receive new life, and offering the donor peace of mind that their loved one’s belongings will reach people with real need, where they will make a significant difference to those people’s lives.