Welcome to RAISE – Refugee Action In Somerset East.
This group originated in 2015 when Justine Corrie wanted to do something to help refugees in Calais and put out a message on her facebook page. The idea quickly grew through the power of facebook and the energy and commitment of people in Bruton, Frome and Glastonbury. Our Facebook group now has over 2,300 members, and is still our primary means of organisation: please join it and participate.
Until the pandemic struck in 2020, we held donation drops at least once a week. Our team of volunteers met weekly to sort and pack donated items. This aid was either given to refugees who were being resettled locally, transported direct to Calais, or shipped to help refugees in Europe, the Middle East or Africa, by our partner agencies. A small amount will have been sold to raise funds for transportation.
Since the pandemic and Brexit it has been far harder to collect and send aid for multiple reasons. We are currently only doing occasional donation drops, often of limited items. We are in contact with Somerset County Council Resettlement Team and prepared to help as best we can with any refugees from Afghanistan (or elsewhere) who are resettled locally. We are also responding to the crisis in Ukraine (see ‘How you can help now’).
We are funded entirely by donations and have no paid staff. We do not provide direct services to refugees or distribute aid ourselves, although many of our volunteers have also worked to do this with other organisations either locally or abroad. Our volunteers come from very different backgrounds (political, religious, interest etc) but are all here to help handle the humanitarian crisis in France and beyond. Our focus is on what brings us together and how we can organise to help.