'Donate a Doner': UK kebab shops aid Turkey earthquake survivors

Doner is a hugely popular dish in Turkey and abroad.
Doner is a hugely popular dish in Turkey and abroad.   -  Copyright  STR/AFP
By Joshua Askew

If every Briton brought an extra doner, campaigners estimate they could make £45 million in a week.

Kebab shops in the UK have launched a campaign to help survivors of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria. 

The 'Donate a Doner' appeal is asking the kebab-hungry British public to donate the price of their beloved takeaway to help the region recover from last month's quake, which left tens of thousands dead and millions in desperate need of assistance. 

"We thought this could be a vehicle for us to reach out to the British public and invite them to continue to enjoy their kebabs, but hopefully make a donation while doing so," Ibrahim Dogus, founder of the appeal, told Euronews.

"It's an easy way into people's life. The dish is known by almost everyone in Britain. And if people have not had one, they know about it," he added. 

BULENT KILIC/AFP or licensors
Turkey was obliterated by the quake.BULENT KILIC/AFP or licensors

With 1.3 million kebabs eaten in the UK every day -- at an average price of £5 (€5.60) -- campaign organisers estimate they could raise £45 million (€50.7 million) a week if everyone brought an extra doner. 

The two very large earthquakes on 6 February caused an estimated €32.2 billion in damages, according to the World Bank. 

Donations to the appeal will go to the British Red Cross and can be made in-store at some of the UK's 20,000 kebab shops, as well as online.

"We're trying to help people meet their basic needs, such as blankets, tents, food, anything you can imagine... because this earthquake is much bigger than anything that has happened in the past," said Dogus. 

"I'd like to call on the British public to continue their brilliant generosity, they have been helping so well." 

Dogus is originally from Elbistan, a town in southeastern Turkey, which he says has been obliterated by the natural disaster. 

While his immediate family and safe and well, he knows many people who have died or been made homeless. 

"It was a big shock," he recalled. "It's my home town. I was born here, I know the people and they know me."

"Now they are all suffering."

An iconic Turkish cuisine, the doner kebab is a mainstay of the British diet, with one in ten Brits eating the dish every day, according to campaigners. 

While the vertical rotisserie originated in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century, the modern wrap variant was invented in Berlin by Turkish immigrants in the 1970s. 

STR/AFP
Turkish immigrants brought the kebab to Germany.STR/AFP

More than 50,000 people are estimated to have died in the two 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude quakes, which left thousands more injured, missing or homeless. 

Millions desperately need basic provisions, such as water, shelter and food. 

There has been widespread criticism of the Turkish President over authorities' slow response, lack of preparedness and allowing contractors to waive building requirements. 

Dogus -- who also started the British Kebab Awards - hoped the 'Donate a Doner' appeal would be able to support victims of the earthquake well into the future.

It is also calling on the government to drop VAT on doner kebabs and donate the difference. 

"In a few months' time, there maybe be a disaster somewhere else. So people's focus will be shifted. Therefore, we need something that could be an ongoing long-term campaign," he told Euronews. 

"We need to keep helping people."

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