Hundreds of people turned up in the city to show solidarity to those fleeing the war in Syria by donating vital resources which were sent to a refugee camp yesterday.

The event, which took place on Saturday, saw people hand over sleeping bags, tents and blankets which were boxed and loaded into a van which delivered the items to Calais, in France.

The Big Nottingham Collection was organised by EM Solidarity – an East Midlands organisation conjoining charities in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester which support refugees – and held in Unit 2, Gauntley Court, Hyson Green, and received thousands of donations.

Over 40 volunteers worked tirelessly from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm to collect and sort through the items which are intended to keep the refugees warm and survive cold, wet and muddy conditions.

Dhiren Makhecha, 31, from London, who helped to organise the collection, said it exceeded his expectations because of the great spirt at the event and how hard the volunteers worked.

He added: “The fact we managed to collect so many items and so much food was incredible, we were able to pull communities together; the cross-section of ages, genders, races, ethnicities and religions in the room was incredible and everyone was having a good time and helping each other out and making new friends.

“The best thing of it all was that a young child turned up with his pocket money worth six pounds, and what he did was that he bought a hat and a pair of gloves for the refugees.”

The group also received other resources such as men’s walking boots, tarpaulins and food – including rice, red lentils and tins of tomatoes – which will be sent in additional convoys to camps in Dunkirk and Calais within the next two weeks.

Lou Radford, 59, from Sneinton, volunteered at the collection and has previously visited refugee camps in Dunkirk and Calais.

She said: “There are people trudging about in the mud, there’s hardly any sanitation to speak of, there are lots of unaccompanied minors, there are families, old people and people with disabilities and they’re living in freezing cold tents and the only work which seems to be being done is by people helping to build shelters, volunteers basically – not by any government agency.

“Without this stuff people are sleeping with nothing to cover them up and this is the case; people are arriving in Dunkirk – up to 20 or more some days – and new people are arriving with nothing – no tents, no sleeping bags and no clothes to wear – and they come to you, as a volunteer, and say: ‘Can you help me?’ If you haven’t got the stuff to give them, then that’s it.”

Emma Cornish, self-employed from Beeston, also helped at the collection, and said it was a chance to do something and feel better about the refugee crisis.

She added: “The thought of staying in a tent in cold weather like this is pretty grim, but the choice between staying outside with no tent and staying in a tent with a sleeping bag with basic food is the difference between life and death.”