We started out July responding to an emergency plea: donations have been drying up in Calais. The kitchens had to stop serving and there were no clothes to hand out to the new refugees arriving in the camp. Luckily Laurel, one of our lovely volunteers, was going on a family holiday in Europe and filled her car up with food! We contributed a £200 order from Morrisons, and it looks like all the family enjoyed delivering it!
There are still about 7,000 refugees in the Jungle and surrounding area, with more arriving every day. Although there is less media attention now the need is still massive. Our experience has been that – following the referendum and subsequent attacks on some sections of our community – we have had some great donations: people really want to give a positive message of support to refugees and those less fortunate than themselves. We have continued to operate a drop off points in Mill on the Brue in Bruton and Your Storage Space in Frome, and have had regular sorting and packing sessions in Frome too. If you want to help you’d be very welcome!
In July we had a special focus on raising funds and collecting donations of clothes wash for The Wild Washerwomen – a brilliant new project instigated by Flora (from Frome) and her friends. It was great that the Frome Times put the Wild Washerwomen on their front page. Local people contributed a brilliant collection of clothes wash, which will enable them to do well over 1,500 washes! This response was so great that money collected through the fundraising page we set up can go to other essential costs: fuel for the generator and motor insurance (not cheap).
The van was adapted by Travelling Toolbox in Glastonbury, who I’m told did an amazing job. By the time you read this The Wild Washerwomen will be busily washing in Calais: we await an update! As there will be ongoing costs to running this service the Wild Washerwomen fundraising page is still live and your continuing financial support would be much appreciated! Julian Thomas, Flora’s dad, and I were interviewed on All About Frome, Frome FM, on 2nd August, and you can hear it here.
Meanwhile we’ve started work on the caravan we bought at the end of Glastonbury. Noticing that Graft were running graffiti workshops at Farmfest, I approached them to see if our caravan, now named ‘Raising Hope’, might make a suitable canvas for their work. They agreed, and with support from the organisers of Farmfest (and some fair weather) Raising Hope is now a wonderful work of art, and will send a clear message of love, beauty – and hope – to her new occupants in Calais. Many thanks to Rob of Graft!
We’re now concentrating on preparing the inside of the caravan, and in order to do this, and to tow her out to Calais, would like your support again. We have a fundraising target of £550, which will enable us to buy solar powered lights, a fire extinguisher, a small wood-burning stove for heating and cooking (which we can get fitted free of charge), as well as covering the costs of the ferry and fuel for the journey. As Linden & Rob (who are donating their time and the use of their van to tow Raising Hope) have a large van, this sum will also mean that we can take a full load of sleeping bags, blankets, camping mats, and clothes out for other refugees. We’re taking donations online and would much appreciate your help with this. Please tick the gift aid box if you’re able – it really does make a difference! https://mydonate.bt.com/events/raisinghope
We are, of course, continuing to accept donations of clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, rucksacks, kitchen equipment etc, and with the help of our network of volunteers and other grassroots organisations are sending them on to both Calais, Syria, and Greece. Our donation drop dates for August are on the flier below, and a list of items we’re currently collecting is here on our website.
Once again, many thanks to all who donated aid, time, and facilities this month. By working together we really can make such a difference!