A THOUSAND wrapped Christmas presents for refugees arrived via sheep trailer in Teesside yesterday thanks to Yorkshire Dales residents.

The gifts, to bring cheer to refugees living in Middlesbrough, were delivered to the John Paul Centre on Grange Road thanks to 2 Dales Action for Refugees, from Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

It is the third Christmas delivery from the small action group. Last year they delivered 600 presents – and this year’s increase is thanks to Wensleydale residents becoming involved.

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Pete Widlinski, of Teesside refugee charity Justice First, said: “Gangs of wrappers over several days are required to wrap the presents, and last year they had Christmas present wrapping sessions in the corner of a local pub.

“So you go for a pint and spend some time wrapping presents for asylum seekers and their families in Teesside, which is fantastic.

The presents will be given out at a Christmas party at the St Mary’s Centre, Corporation Road, on Friday organised by Fiona Watson and Bini Araia from Investing in People and Culture (IPC).

Mr Araia said: “We all know Christmas presents are exchanged between people who have special relationships, be it family member or friends, and the 2 Dales Action for Refugees have chosen to be family and friends to those who find themselves far away from their own families and friends.

“It is a great way of showing your love to those who most need it.”

IPC is a registered charity in Middlesbrough which promotes inclusion among refugees and black and minority ethnic communities who are marginalised because of their economic position.

It provides training, including English speaking programmes, as well as organising social events which promote cultural understanding. It also raises awareness about refugees’ needs and contributions.