REFUGEE support efforts in the Highlands have been given a major boost after three groups joined forces ahead of a massive shipment of vital supplies being sent overseas from Ross-shire.
Re-Act Lochaber and Moray Supports Refugees have merged with charity The Highlands Support Refugees (THSR), in a bid to boost their work in the UK and abroad.
The groups will now collaborate on future projects including the dispatching of aid to Calais and shipment of a 40-foot container of summer clothing to a camp in Greece.
James Shewan, secretary for the charity, said: "When we agreed the merge, I knew it would be a massive boost to our charity’s aims of supporting and providing for refugees locally and abroad.
"Working together will increase our outreach and encourage even more communities across the Highlands to donate aid and help improve the lives of refugees.
"Since starting in 2015, THSR has shipped 114 tonnes of aid to refugees across Europe and beyond. Now we’ve merged with Lochaber and Moray, I can’t wait to see this figure rise even more."
THSR is a charity with a depot in Conon Bridge which has been sending aid, food and support to refugees since September 2015.
The volunteer efforts stretch from Moray to Shetland, helping thousands of those in need in Syria, Lebanon and across Europe. Despite regular donations of goods and time, the charity is still in need of further support from the public.
It has called on people to help with their efforts by providing some time for sorting items at its depot or gifting money.
Mr Shewan said: "Although it isn’t featured in the news much any more, the refugee crisis is still going on. There is a constant demand for the aid we dispatch."
A group of around 30 volunteers helped pack the 40-foot container dispatched from Conon with donations which had been collected from local communities around the Highlands and Isl-ands. They are being shipped to the Greek Island of Lesbos.
The Highlands Support Refugees does not operate beyond Scotland but has links to some of the Greek islands. Two supporters, Andy and Fran, are based on Chios and have a blog and send photos to confirm arrival at http://nixseaman.tumblr.com/
Mr Shewan added: "We are always looking for volunteers. At the moment we have a UHI student working with us carrying out a placement as part of his studies. The easiest way for anyone wanting to get involved is through our Facebook page. At the start of every week we post the depot operating hours where most of the volunteering is carried out."
The group is also looking for a new, central depot to base its operations out of. The last two places in Dingwall and Conon Bridge have been given for free by Highland Council.