Last week, we delivered a lorryload of aid to support refugees and destitute migrants in Calais and Dunkirk, including food, socks collected by local primary school pupils and buggies for babies and toddlers in refugee camps.
Our group West Berks Action for Refugees organised the delivery of aid, which was 50% donations from residents of West Berkshire and surrounding areas, and 50% donations from the Slough warehouse of CalAid, with British NGO Hope & Aid Direct providing the lorry without charge.
While group founder Lindsey Middlemiss has been to Calais and Dunkirk before as a volunteer, this was the first time on such a trip for local nurse Rachel Birch, musician John Kane and mum Asta von Stackelberg, who organised a sock collection at her local school in the Hendreds, South Oxon.
“Going to a refugee camp or the Calais ‘Jungle’ with volunteers for the first time always brings home how shocking it is. With the Jungle, you’re standing in an unsanitary shanty town, that you might expect in a developing country in Africa or South America, but you’re just minutes from the British border. It is very surreal. There are thousands of people and hundreds of children, including many unaccompanied children, live there without being properly cared for.
Having been to the hell of the old camp at Dunkirk, it is good to see how conditions have been improved in Dunkirk over the last 2 months, but even there, the situation is still pretty desperate. The stony ground in the camp is unsafe for small children, so parents were desperately grateful for a donated pushchair. Other donations were gratefully received by the volunteers at the warehouse, so huge thanks to everyone who donated, collected and helped us pack it all up properly.”