POSTPONED – Bake sale in Hungerford

The bake sale in Hungerford has been postponed. Details to follow!

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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

Food
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!

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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

Venue:

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.

Humanitarian aid reaches Lesvos

Humanitarian aid collected in West Berkshire reached the Greek island of Lesvos last week and was distributed to where it was needed.

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Local group West Berks Action for Refugees worked with UK aid organization Hope and Aid Direct, who organized a four lorry convoy of needed humanitarian aid for Lesvos. One of those four lorries was filled with the generous donations of people in West Berkshire.

WP_20160116_13_10_28_ProLocal mum, doula and founder of West Berks Action for Refugees, Lindsey Middlemiss, travelled out to Lesvos to meet the convoy and help with the distribution of aid on the island. Lesvos is the third largest Greek island, with a population of around 86,000 people. In 2015, it received over half a million arrivals of people fleeing war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Lindsey said on returning from Lesvos:

“Reality hit when we arrived and I realized that the coast of Turkey is easily visible from the coast of Lesvos. Winter has not stopped the flow of boats but it has raised the risks. More and more families and children are now arriving, often arriving frozen and wet, fortunate if they have escaped drowning, hypothermia and frostbite.

Refugee children – mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – are prominent in every arriving boat and every departing ferryload. Our team came across some unaccompanied refugee children, such as the orphaned 13 year old boy who had sole charge of his 3 younger siblings.

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The people of Lesvos are doing so much to deal with the influx of arrivals, helped mainly by expats and volunteers from many nationalities. Some major NGOs – UNHCR, Save the Children, IRC – are present, but it was clear that it is volunteers taking the strain of providing humaniatarian aid to the arrivals, whether as medics on the beaches and in the camps, lifeguards and first responders on the shore, cooking food, distributing dry clothing or sorting aid donations.

Coming home I was saddened to learn that 3 lives were lost that day to hypothermia off Lesvos’ north shore, one of them a 4 year old boy. Losing arrivals to death by hypothermia or drowning is an ever present fear for those who work and volunteer on Lesvos. There are insufficient rescue patrols and many are forced to cross in unsafe weather conditions, inadequately dressed and in boats that are dangerous in themselves.

Getting the convoy of aid to Lesvos was impressive and I’m grateful to everyone who helped – from our local volunteers, through local businesses including Vets4Pets, Pickfords, Sainsbury and Camp Hopson, Thatcham Baptist Church to everyone who donated to help cover the costs of the convoy”

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West Berks Action for Refugees is not currently accepting further donations of general aid but are always in need of more volunteers to help sort donations. See West Berks Refugees on Facebook or www.westberksrefugees.org for more information and updates.

Photo of fire in the Calais Refugee Camp

Responding to the Paris Attack

As our thoughts are with Paris tonight, we hear that the refugee camp in Calais is in flames. This is a sad sad night.

If you hear anti-immigration, anti-Islam and anti-refugee rhetoric in the coming days in response to the Paris attacks, remind people that terrorism has no religion and many of the refugees are fleeing from the very evils behind the attacks in Paris. We must stand together and be strong

‪#‎Paris‬ ‪#‎RefugeesWelcome‬ ‪#‎WeAreAllHuman‬

West Berks Winter Collection for Refugees *** Updated ***

DonationDrive_151204cFar too many refugees are in desperate need of humanitarian aid in Europe, sleeping in the open, in the rain and cold, without proper equipment, clothing, shelter or food. We have to help.

Please bring your donations to our winter collection, and if you can come for all or part of the day and volunteer, that would be amazing. There will be a cake sale as well, so please bring along some change to buy yummy foods and help us fundraise! We are also asking for everyone to bring a donation towards the costs of getting aid out to Europe – the suggest donation is £1 but this is not compulsory obviously!

FRIDAY 4 DECEMBER
THATCHAM BAPTIST CHURCH, Wheelers Green Way, Thatcham, West Berkshire RG19 4YF

Join the event on Facebook

We will be collecting:
– Waterproof coats, ponchos and trousers
– Jogging bottoms for adults/children 4 years+
– Warm jumpers for adults/children 4 years+
– Thermal mid-layer tops and leggings
– Warm hats & gloves/mittens
– Wellies, hiking boots, snowboots and sturdy trainers/shoes suitable for walking in the wet
– Socks
– New underwear
– Snowsuits for babies/children
– Baby carriers
– Soft toys
– Rucksacks/backpacks
– Toothpaste
– Fleece blankets & warm blankets (no duvets or sheets!)
– Foil emergency blankets
– Sleeping bags (3 season +)
– Camping roll mats
– Tents, double skinned and sturdy canvas ‘Scout type’ only. Please check all parts are present.
– Your unused EUROS (coins are fine)
– Torches and head-torches, preferably solar or wind-up OR with new batteries.
– Heat seeking night sight binoculars
– Search light torches
– Telescopes
– Loudhailers
– Light weight waders
– VHF Radios
– High vis vests
– Disposable gloves

 

***** If it is not on the list, please do NOT bring it. If you think something should be on the list and it’s not, contact us BEFORE the day *****

Please take the time to check and prepare your donations – this saves us a lot of work and improves the quality of what we give. Do tents have all the needed parts? Check blankets, clothing & shoes are clean and free from holes. Spray footwear with waterproofing if possible. Put an appropriate clean pair of socks in each shoe/boot. Place children’s shoes (with socks) inside a CLEAR plastic bag and label it with the size in EU sizes. Tape adult shoes together with parcel tape and label it with the size in EU sizes.

 

Hosting

At present there is no supposedly need for refugees coming directly from camps around Syria to be hosted with local residents, but this may change in future.

Emergency accommodation for destitute asylum seekers may also be needed, as well as linking up refugees with local people who can support them.

Register to volunteer here

We suggest that you also register with Spare Room.

If you have stand alone accommodation that could be used by refugees, please do register and let us know.