News Release

Spelthorne Mayor Joins Local Women to Help Refugees

The Mayor and Mayoress of Spelthorne joined over 100 women from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a special women's conference hosted by the Church in Staines on Saturday 5 November, to learn about local refugee needs and provide vital resources to help them.


The conference, organised by the regional women's president for the Church, Kelli Gilstrap, built upon a year-long effort by members in the Staines area to help refugees, firstly in Calais, and now closer to home. Entitled 'I was a Stranger', the day began with inspirational presentations from women of different faiths outlining how they continue to help the refugees in their area and across Europe.

Following the presentations, the women divided into groups to work on service projects requested by local refugee charities, two of whom were in attendance. Some sorted through over 60 bags of donated winter clothing. Others pieced together over 1,000 squares which many of them had knitted prior to the conference, to be made into blankets. A final group assembled 1,000 hygiene kits for men, women and children, with 96 year old Willamena Baker packing 35 nappy kits alone.

The results of this service were immediate. A member of the charity, Refugee Action Kingston, was delighted by the handmade blankets, recognising the expression of solidarity and love. She asked for blankets to be sewn for three newborn babies shortly to arrive to Syrian refugee families in Kingston. The sewing group not only put them together quickly, but also supplied donated Moses baskets to go with them.

Another charity present, Slough Refugee Support, received several bags of winter coats to take away and give to refugees who are without.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Spelthorne were visibly touched by the endeavour, with the Mayor giving an impromptu speech, outlining their family history with two sets of grandparents who were refugees in World War II.

"This has been a very moving morning for us, as my wife and I are connected to this history. I am proud of the people in Spelthorne helping in this way. All of us have been strangers at some point in our lives, be it at a new job or a new school, and we need to remember the people who have helped us during that time and what a difference they made to us".

Kelli Gilstrap commented, 'Our hearts are full. So much hard work was accomplished and we know this work will bless so many in our communities. We are inspired and motivated to reach out and continue to serve and build relationships with refugee organisations'.

Russell Ball, regional president of the Church in the local area and who also present, said, “This was a truly remarkable day. We were honoured to have the Mayor and Mayoress of Spelthorne with us. We enjoy working with local charities and other interfaith groups and look forward to involving members of the local communities in continuing this great effort.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.