Socks for the Sole & Buggies for Babies

Donations unloaded at the warehouse
Rachel Birch, Asta Von Stackelberg, Steve Lennon (from Hope & Aid Direct), Charles Storer (Chief Exec of Hope & Aid Direct) and Lindsey Middlemiss at the warehouse in Calais with unloaded boxes of aid

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.


Lindsey and Rachel in the Jungle
Rachel & Lindsey in the Calais Jungle

Lindsey said:


“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.”


Lindsey Middlemiss, Rachel Birch, Steve Lennon (from Hope & Aid Direct), John Kane and Asta Von Stackelberg with a refugee family who had just received a donated buggy. The families faces have been blurred for their protection

URGENT Aid Collection for France

In response to an increased need in Calais and Dunkirk, following the destruction of a large part of the Calais Jungle camp and the relocation of the Dunkirk camp, we’re going to be doing a big run to Calais next month. Hope & Aid Direct have offered the use of one of their 7.5tonne lorries, which means we can get a lot more out far more effectively than in cars.

We will be opening up donations for a very specific list of items for the next 4 weeks only. In order to manage this in the short amount of time we have, we need as many volunteers as possible to help in 3 ways:

1. Act as local collection points or organise local collections, e.g. at schools. We are asking that anyone who does this takes on the task of rejecting inappropriate donations, sorting what they are given (either packing it into single item banana boxes or into single items bags – e.g. a bag just of thick blankets, a bag just of socks, etc) and bringing donations to the store at Vets4Pets, Greenham Road, Newbury.

2. Helping sorting and packing at the Vets4Pets store. We will also be opening up donations directly at the Vets4Pets store, but preferably on days we have volunteers there.

3. Picking up banana boxes and taking them to Vets4Pets. We use the Fyffes-style ones with the slide-on lids. We have found that Sainsburys generally have them out, so if you shop there, please check every time and pick up as many as you can.

The donations we are collecting are:
• foil blankets
• thick blankets, adult sized ONLY (NOT pram size)
• roll mats
• sleeping bags, ONLY in individual bags
• fire extinguishers
• torches, wind-up or with new batteries ONLY
• 130 litre strong bin bags
• Mens gloves
• backpacks (small for grab bags and large for possessions)
• mens thick socks, clean and in good condition
• Sizes 41, 42, 43 trainers, clean and in good condition
• Mens small and medium joggers, clean and in good condition

o 1L oil
o 1kg rice
o 1kg sugar
o tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel) in ring-pull tins
o tinned vegetables (tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans NOT baked beans) in ring-pull tins
o biscuit packets
o tea and coffee
o dried fruit and nuts
o vegetable stock cubes
o 1L UHT milk

It is vital that ONLY these donations are collected and that they are in good, clean condition, with all food in date.

Drop-off points:

SUNDAY 3 APRIL ONLY: St Nics church, donations to Joyce after morning and evening services (11.30am and 7.30pm)

NEWBURY: Vets4Pets on Greenham Rd, Newbury (call ahead if its a large amount). ALL listed donations.
Friday 1st 8.30-11.30am
Saturday 2nd 9am-5pm
Monday 4th April 11am to 1pm …
Tuesday 5th April 11am to 1pm
Friday 8th April 9.30-11.30am
Saturday 9th 9am-12pm

NEWBURY: Any day 7.30am-9pm. Aldens, 19 Pyle Hill, Greenham Rd, Newbury. FOOD ONLY.

EAST GARSTON: Any day. Hillsprings, East Garston, RG17 7HW. Call 01488 648534 first if possible. ALL listed donations.

LAMBOURN: Any day. Iveagh Cottage at Nugent Farm, Upper Lambourn, on the B4000. Call 01488 71250 if needed. ALL listed donations.

For alternative times/days, please call 07894 967164 or check the Facebook page updates. If you can act as a collection point, please let us know!

Thank you!


Help us sort donations!

We’re instigating regular sorting sessions, so please come along and help if you have a spare hour or two.

Sessions are on:

Tuesdays 12.30-2.30pm

Fridays 9.30am-12.30pm


Vets4Pets, Unit 3, Adlam Villas, Greenham Road, Newbury RG14 7HX

If you’re coming by car, please park in the Burger King Retail Park carpark and walk round the mini roundabout.

There is no need to register, and feel free to just rock up, but if you can let us know you’re planning to come along then we can try to make sure you get advance warning if there is a problem.

The storeroom can be cold and dim, so wrap up warm and, if it’s a dull day, bring a headtorch if you have one. It’s not really safe for small children on the move, but we’ve had plenty of older kids be really useful.