Oxford students bring help to riot victims

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Two Oxford students last week personally transported donations to victims of riots in south London.

Matt Barrett, a third year PPE student at Christ Church and JCR President last year, drove a vanload of donations from Oxford to Croydon last Friday. He was accompanied by his girlfriend, Chloe Mills, who also reads PPE at Christ Church.

Having been motivated into action by the #Riotcleanup campaign on Twitter, Barrett told residents of Oxford that he intended to make collections from four points around the city on Friday night, and asked them to donate anything useful which they had.

He used the Freecycle Network, a website which allows users to give up items which they no longer want or need without throwing them away.

Barrett claims to have been blown away by the people of Oxford’s generosity. He told Cherwell this week, “The response was overwhelming, and people came out of the woodwork to donate clothes, toiletries, books, children’s toys, etc.

“We hired a van from Streetcar for a few hours and got in touch with Croydon Council. They’d arranged a storage unit in a shopping mall so we were able to trek down at about 9pm and drop the donation off.”

He added that the operation was a team effort. “Chloe organised most of the donations while I sorted the logistics. She also dealt with my temper when we got lost in Croydon!”

He described the grim atmosphere in south London following heavy violence and looting earlier in the week, saying: “Croydon itself was a wreck. Most of the high street was burnt or boarded up and there were hoards of police officers everywhere.” 

But he claimed that the night’s work was an uplifting experience, saying: “I was bowled over by how helpful people were; the whole clean up campaign has been the best of British.”

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