Monthly Archives: September 2016

Calais Update

This statement was issued by Help Refugees on 26th September:

CALAIS UPDATE

-Full eviction of Calais camp, including containers and Jules Ferry Centre, expected prior to the 31st October

-President assures the associations an assessment census of the entire camp will be carried out ahead of evictions

-387 children who have been referred to the Home Office for relocation to the UK under Dublin 3 and Alf Dubs amendment should be quickly processed and brought to safety in the UK

-Large backpacks, suitcases, suitcases with wheels and funds needed urgently https://mydonate.bt.com/donation/start.html?charity=127188. Email calaisdonations@gmail.com if you have physical donations.

A representative from L’Auberge des Migrants, our partner organisation for operations in Calais and Dunkirk, attended the meeting with President Hollande, and Bernard Cazaneuve, the Interior Minister, this morning. 

We have completed an initial consultation in regards to the outcomes of this meeting. It is our understanding that the government plans to evict not only the entire unofficial Calais camp, commonly known as the ‘Jungle’ but also the container camp (CAP) and the Jules Ferry Centre (also known as Salam). The Jules Ferry centre offers accommodation for unaccompanied female minors and adult women, many of whom are accompanied by their children in the centre. 

The associations present at the meeting were told that there would be an assessment census prior to the eviction, that the complete eviction would be carried out over the course of three days and that this entire process would be complete by 31st October.

It is our understanding that, during the process of the assessment census, the authorities will be recording those who wish to claim asylum in France, those who wish to apply for asylum in other countries as well as those who wish to be deported back to their country of origin. We understand that they will record details of families, unaccompanied minors and other groups considered vulnerable. This assessment census is due to be conducted by the authorities in partnership with an NGO or an organisation able to support this exercise in a balanced and humanitarian way. 

We are told that there will be sufficient places available in CAOs (accommodation centres located across France) for all current camp residents who are willing to move to them and that buses will be provided to transport the people and their belongings. 

Very limited information has been provided about measures proposed to ensure safe, adapted facilities for the unaccompanied minors currently living in the camp. At the time of our last census the unaccompanied minors represented 10% of the total population of the camp. Ensuring the safety of these vulnerable people is our primary concern.

Safe passage, who we work closely with in Calais, have given a list of 387 children eligible to come to the UK to the Home Office and Amber Rudd. 209 of these were eligible under the Alf Dubs amendment and the rest under Dublin 3 family reunification. 

To date no children have been transferred to the UK under the Alf Dubs amendment and no best interest assessment has been carried out by the French or British authorities in an attempt to begin a process to do so. We hope that the British government will act quickly to expedite both Dublin 3 and the Dubs amendment since we are aware that an imminent eviction without adequate provision for these young people could result in a large number of them being unaccounted for. 

In the meantime we continue our daily operations in Calais, working closely with the camp residents calmly ensuring they have all the information they need and assuring them of our ongoing support. We, in turn, will need the support of the public to ensure we have sufficient supplies of large backpacks and rolling suitcases so that everyone can leave the camp with all their possessions in a dignified manner. If you can help hosting a collection and bringing these items to Calais please contact calaisdonations@gmail.com. This eviction is imminent so if you are able to act quickly this will be a great help. If you wish to donate funds to contribute to our teams’ work with residents of the Calais camp at this difficult time please click here https://mydonate.bt.com/donation/start.html?charity=127188

RAISE will be collecting as many large rucksacks, day packs, wheeled suitcases and mobile phones as we can during this period and delivering them to Calais as a priority.

We are continuing to collect all other items as normal, as they will still be needed. Please continue donating!

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September update

August was been a totally staggering month for us! We thought things would be fairly quiet, with many people being away, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. We were completely inundated with mega-donations we couldn’t refuse! Well to be honest, we had no idea what we were accepting, otherwise we might have thought out a better move-on plan to start with, but everything we do is so new we’re very much learning as we go along.

Firstly the group New Wine (which is actually a religious group rather than an alcohol drinking one) had their summer conferences just down the road from us. As they believe in actively doing good, rather than just talking it, they asked their participants to consider donating us their sleeping bags, camping mats, and tents for refugees. This was HUGELY successful, with many people donating, and we got massive hauls of high quality (and mud free!) donations on two weekends running!

Then at more or less the same time, Bath Spa Conferencing & Venue Hire offered us their end of summer season duvet and pillow sets, which were virtually new (and completely irresistible!)

However these two mega donations (the Bath Spa duvets are still arriving each week and will continue until the end of September) did rather overwhelm our storage space. This month we owe even more thanks to our wonderful hosts at Your Storage Space, Rich, Fraser and Alan, who have been amazingly patient and accommodating.

Needless to say our normal transport arrangements have not been able to cope with this summer’s mega donations! However social media can be a wonderful thing, and the network of grassroots organisations across the UK is now active and powerful, and has enabled us to pull in generosity from far and wide. We have filled cars, vans, trailers and camper vans, which have been driven by ordinary (but especially lovely) people on their way to France, either off on holiday or making trips specially to help refugees. Andy at Omega Derivatives stepped in and financially supported several trips to the Help Refugees L’Auberge warehouse, Care 4 Calais sent us a truck, and RAFT – Refugee Aid From Taunton – lent their support and their volunteers to help with the big send-out. In fact looking at the photos, it looks like we’ve sent ELEVEN loads out to Calais since my last blog post five weeks ago! Many thanks to everyone who donated, sorted, packed, loaded, and drove!

To say we have lost count of how many refugees we have – jointly – given bedding to this summer would be wrong. We couldn’t have begun to start counting – we were just too busy – but it must be easily a thousand, and we haven’t finished yet. Although there are still new refugees arriving in Calais every day, needing bedding and clothes, at least for a while some of the warehouse shelves in Calais have had a good top up.

When we can, we give our volunteers RAISE money to spend on food or other urgently needed items for refugees when they get to Calais. Special thanks go to Kate who not only made two trips to Calais for us this summer, but also managed to empty quite a few supermarket shelves on our behalf with her bulk purchasing of biscuits: a special request for the Eid celebrations.

Meanwhile Jeanette and Laurel have been working on getting our lovely caravan, Raising Hope, ready for her new life as home to some refugees in Calais. She now has new curtains and is beautifully prepared inside as well as out! We have had many wonderful donations both of money and items to go inside Hope, and so have managed to fully fund the trip to Calais, solar powered lights, a welcome hamper, and the purchase & fitting of a frontier stove to give her residents the means of heating and cooking. Many thanks to everyone who has helped with this, to Jungle Canopy for all your advice and support, and to Linden & Rob who will tow her and a big van of donated aid to Calais.

In August we also put a call out for items of furniture and equipment at the request of YMCA Mendip, to prepare a home in our area for some unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Your response was amazing, and we gathered the items (or pledges) very quickly. There have been some delays with finalising things as some unexpected repairs have been needed to the house, but all is progressing well and they are settling into life in the UK. If you would like to know about other opportunities to help unaccompanied asylum seeking children in this area, please see this post which has more information.

In terms of raising awareness, apart from our very active facebook presence and local networking, I also did a talk to the Frome Selwood Rotary Club in August with Paddy from Childrens World, and we look forward to finding opportunities to work with them.

It seems amazing that we have come so far, and done so much in just one year since Justine Corrie first asked her friends for donations to fill her car boot! As one volunteer said to me this summer: we’ve really upped our game now, and I think she’s right.

Looking forward, this month we will be continuing to collect your donations of aid to send to refugees in Calais and beyond. The full details of our donation drop dates & places, and what we are collecting are here.

We also have a couple of fundraising events coming shortly which we would love you to support:

  • Ruth is organising a Mega Sale of designer & vintage clothes, both pre-loved and new, plus household bric-a-brac, books and toys at the Sun Street Chapel in Frome on 2nd October from 11.00 – 15.00.
  • Linden is organising a music gig Raising the Roof! on the evening of 22nd October. This will feature The Back Wood Redeemers (in association with OutWest Festivals), The Inbredz, DJ “Mrs P” and Klumpox Visuals. Age 18+ Tickets (£10) available from Brown Paper Tickets.

Thank you so much, again, to all our volunteers, donors, and supporters! We’ve had an amazing summer, and it wouldn’t have been possible without you!

 

Helping Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children locally

As you may know, we’ve been working with YMCA Mendip to help prepare a home for the first of the unaccompanied children being resettled in this area. This is just the beginning of what we need to do, as Somerset is hoping to resettle about seventy children in the next year.

The following letter from Orla Dunn outlines some of the ways that you, or someone you might know, could get involved. Please share.

Dear Community Groups / Supporters

You may have heard that Somerset is starting to take an increasing number of  unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The majority of these children are likely to be 16 and 17 years old. Somerset is looking to resettle around 70 children in the next 12 months and we are hoping to mobilise the support of our community groups and networks to enable us to do this successfully. We are looking for the following:

Carers who can offer any of the following types of support:

  • Supported lodgings for 16 and 17 year olds
  • Full time fostering for some of the younger children
  • School holiday and weekend Fostering
  • Short term emergency placements

We are interested in both individual family offers to provide lodgings / foster placements. These families would need to be approved as carers. We are also planning to set up community groups where a small number of families in close proximity work together to support a small group of children with one placed in each household but strong links between providing support to both the carers and children.

All prospective carers will need to undergo a full assessment which can take 4-6 months and will receive full training. All foster carers receive an allowance when a child, or children, is living with them to cover the costs of food, clothing, pocket money, bills and activities. All foster carers are paid a fee to reflect the type of placement they offer and the skills, experience and commitment they bring to fostering. The fee will be in addition to the allowance received for the child. If you would like more information on the various fostering support options please email AandFRecruitmentEnquiryLine@somerset.gov.uk

We are also interested in people who would be willing to help support the young people with their integration into the local community. This might take the form of helping with English language skills, showing them around the local area,  helping them make links with community groups and mentor role models. We are particularly keen to make contact with anyone who speaks languages spoken in Albania, Eritrea or Afghanistan or is familiar with the cultures in these areas. If you would like to be involved in this type of support please contact resettlement@somerset.gov.uk

Kind regards

Orla

Dr Orla Dunn

Consultant in Public Health
Somerset County Council
odunn@somerset.gov.uk
07795 286 935

Public Health
B3S
Somerset County Council
Taunton
Somerset
TA1 4DY

01823 357206

PA: Christine Pearce
01823 357266
CHPearce@somerset.gov.uk

Somerset Choices is a website that gives people information and advice on care and support services and local groups in Somerset.  Go towww.somersetchoices.org.uk