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!

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

August 2016 update

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!

Aug flier

 

July 2016 update

With Glastonbury being in our local area, the festival is bound to impact on what we do in RAISE, and it certainly has this year! We held slightly fewer donation drops sessions at Your Storage Space and focused some of our efforts into salvaging some of the very usable items left behind after the festival.

Working with Aid Box Convoy, a Bristol group, a number of our volunteers threw themselves into gathering tents, sleeping bags and food. Some were sorted and packed on site and driven off by ABC volunteers, more came back to our warehouse for sorting and sending.

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One of our volunteers had his 4×4 filled with food that isn’t needed in Calais, and so had the happy job of delivering it to the Frome food bank run by Fair Frome. Great to be able to give something to local people in need too!

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More of the Calais-suitable food is already on it’s way: just as well as the Calais kitchens are currently desperately short of food.

An interesting outcome from the festival is that we have acquired a caravan! It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, but hopefully a good one! We’ll be fitting the caravan out as a home, and towing it across to Calais where it’ll be allocated to people at the top of their vulnerable persons list. More about that soon!

Another mega donation we received this month was from Threshold Sports, who donated a wonderful pile of camping mats and sleeping bags for us to take to Calais. These will be massively helpful in providing comfortable places to sleep for the large number of new refugees arriving each day.

Some of the camping mats and all of the sleeping bags have already been taken to Calais, as we’ve sent three more car loads of donations out this month.

We’ve also sent a car load of aid to RAFT (Refugee Aid from Taunton) who’ll send it on to Syria, and we have more boxes ready to go to them too.

Justine Corrie and I gave a talk to children at the Frome Selwood Academy, and were interviewed by the GLO group for a film they were making. Justine explained what is happening in the world at the moment with refugees, and told them about her experiences in The Jungle. I told them about the work we do in RAISE to help refugees, both direct and supporting other groups. They were a great, attentive audience, and I hope this has helped to foster an active interest in world affairs and a ‘can do’ attitude in these young people. However overwhelming the situation is as a whole, we can all do something to help.

We continue to support refugees given asylum in the UK, and have re-homed several items  this month including bicycles, furniture and a guitar.

July

This month we’re going to be carrying on doing what we do so well: collecting clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, tents etc for refugees in Calais and beyond, but we’re also going to be supporting three amazing young women: ‘The Wild Washerwomen’.

SONY DSC

Clem and Flora

Flora (from Frome) and her friends Zoe and Clem have managed to equip a van with two washing machines, a tumble drier and a generator, and are driving out to Calais at the end of the month where they will wash and dry refugee’s clothes, and give them English conversation lessons. Brilliant idea, and now we want to add final touch of help to set them on their way, so can you donate clothes washing liquid or powder this month please? Donations can be brought to our regular donation drop sessions in Frome or Bruton, or if you’d rather donate money towards this, please do so on the fundraising site we have set up specifically for this purpose. £3.50 can buy clothes wash for 24 washes (more if you tick the gift aid box) and costs less than a pint at the pub! Please contribute today by clicking here!

July flier

And finally, this is our donation drop poster for July. We’ll continue to be open every Monday afternoon plus one Saturday at our warehouse hub in Your Storage Space, Unit 1, Wallbridge, Frome BA11 5JZ. If you fancy volunteering to help for a session (or more) we’d love to hear from you. You can also drop smaller loads at our satellite drop point at Mill on the Brue in Bruton. If you could provide a similar satellite drop point in another nearby village or town, or could arrange a collection in your school, church or community it would be brilliant. And as always, if you could print and display our July poster (below), it would be wonderful!

Many thanks, once again, to everyone who helped at the donation drops, the drivers who have moved donations around our local area and all the way out to France, to everyone who donated goods and money, to Mill on the Brue for hosting our Bruton satellite, and especially to Rich and Fraser at Your Storage Space, who make all the rest of this possible.

July flier for printing

 

June 2016 update

May was another busy month for us: we had six donation drop and sorting sessions at Your Storage Space in Frome. Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped. Mill on the Brue continued to provide us with a much appreciated Bruton drop-off point, from where we ferry donations to Frome for sorting. Along with loads of terrific donations, there were a number of items that weren’t suitable for sending on, which included those that were in poor condition or that had inappropriate slogans.

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We are as creative as we can about putting all the donations we receive to good use, and were pleased to have a stall at Bruton’s Packhorse Fair on 30th May, where we sold donations that weren’t quite what is needed in the refugee camps, plus some items donated especially for sale. It was a great day, and as well as meeting lots of new people who we hope will donate aid to us, we raised over £200, which we will spend on food for refugees in Calais. Many thanks to all who helped, but in particular Linden, Rob and Ruth, who were not only the brains behind the stand, but who were also there for a very early set up and stayed right to the end.

We got a couple of deliveries of aid made to the Help Refugees / L’Auberge warehouse in Calais this month. With one, we funded a large van, which was more than big enough to take our aid donations, so Kate drove on to CalAid in Slough to top up, eventually delivering a vast pile of beautifully sorted aid!

We also gave Kate £200 to spend on food for the refugees while she was there. She did a sterling job, buying masses of tins of tuna, tomatoes, and milk, and delivered them to the refugee kitchen. Many thanks to Kate!

In the Jungle things haven’t been going so well. A Help Refugees census shows that there are now well over 5,000 refugees living in Calais, including 420 unaccompanied minors, and 30 – 100 new refugees arrive each day. The living conditions are very poor, and they are terribly short of basic items like food and clothing.

Last week fires broke out, destroying the homes of about 500 refugees (mostly in the Sudanese area) meaning they lost everything, again. 47 people ended up in hospital. Everyone pulled together to offer emergency shelter, food and clothing, but the result was that stocks in the warehouses  are now are now at desperately low levels.

We have two more deliveries scheduled for Calais in June, and urgently need your donations to fill these vehicles up. Items that are needed now are:

  • roll mats / camping mats and big thick blankets
  • clothing for teenage boys (13-17 years old): tracksuit bottoms, jeans, new underwear (boxers), hoodies (small and medium), trainers (sizes 40-43)
  • small & medium mens clothes: long & short sleeved tops, jumpers, hoodies, tracksuit bottoms, waterproof trousers, new underwear (S&M boxers)
  •  women’s clothing: XS, S & M leggings, tracksuit bottoms, tunic tops with long sleeves, new knickers, boots/shoes up to size 39 (no heels), smaller size bras (up to 36C)
  • sleeping bags, tarpaulins, padlocks, unlocked mobile phones, 3 mobile network sims, torches, tents (especially 3-6 person size)
  • kitchen-ware (family size but also to support communal cooking initiatives): large saucepans with lids, colanders, cutlery, chopping boards, cooking utensils, tin openers, large serving plates/dishes, mixing bowls, serving spoons, dinner plates (not side plates), soup bowls, plastic or metal cups or mugs, kettles for gas hobs
  • we are also still accepting babies and children’s clothing, and men and women’s summer clothing, to send to Syria
  • bicycles for refugees who have been resettled in the UK.

We will have donation drops throughout June but would particularly welcome receiving your donations as early as possible in the month so that we can sort and pack them in time for the planned trips. Many thanks, and please do email if you have any questions! christine@raise.today.

If you would like to donate money to support the work we do, you can do so on our fundraising site: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/raise/

June flier

 

April, and into May

For those of our followers who don’t follow our facebook group, and aren’t on our e-mailing list – a little update.

Receiving aid.

April went well: we had 8 donation drop sessions at Your Storage Space in Frome, and received additional donations at our satellite donation drop point Mill on the Brue in Bruton. Many thanks to Fraser & Rich in Frome, and Tricia in Bruton for letting us use your premises!13119103_10154769054873102_5901708384950120857_n

Delivering aid.

  • We managed one delivery of aid direct to the Help Refugees warehouse in Calais, with a couple of our volunteers spending a few days helping in the camps too.
  • We delivered more sorted and packed aid items to Refugee Aid From Taunton (RAFT), which they will send on to Syria with the Albayan Foundation.
  • We also sent some baby carriers and children’s rucksacks to Chios in Greece with a London group called Boots, Backpacks and Baby Carriers.
  • We were also able to support the Frome Syrian Refugee Support Group with equipping the homes of the Syrian families given refuge locally.

Life in the Jungle

Justine Corrie and Ben Horne spoke about their experiences working in Calais one evening in the Wheatsheaves. Over £80 was raised in donations on the evening, which we topped up to £100 and donated to the Calais woodyard. Ben is now running the woodyard, turning waste wood into fuel for heating and cooking. You can still donate this vital work on the Calais woodyard fundraising site.

May

We are continuing to receive donations in both Frome and Bruton during May: for information on dates and times please click the links.

 

We will also be taking a stall at the Packhorse Fair in Bruton on 31st May, where we will be fundraising and hope to meet more people who don’t yet know about the work we do. Please pop over and see us if you’re in town on that day!

March donation drop

Great news: we’re about to start another donation drop, this time at a new location in Frome. The lovely guys at Your Storage Space, Unit 1, Wallbridge, Frome BA11 5JZ are letting us collect, sort and store there! This is brilliant as we’ve previously had to expend a lot of time and energy transporting donations between drop-off and sorting spaces!

This time we’ll be collecting items that are currently urgently needed in Calais. Having said that, the needs in Calais do change very quickly, but we’re confident that the items on this list are such staples that if they’re not all top priorities in Calais for our next trip in a fortnight, they will be needed by refugees elsewhere, and we’ll get them to someone in need as soon as we can.

So, it’s the following items this time please:

  • Sleeping bags, roll mats, blankets, torches or battery powered lights, AA & AAA batteries.
  • MEN: walking boots size 42+, trainers size 42+, small & medium coats/jackets, small & medium jumpers, small men’s trousers & trackies.
  • WOMEN: small & medium trackies / comfy trousers / leggings, shoes / boots / wellies sizes 37-41.
  • CHILDREN: socks, trackies all ages.

A word about quality. All items MUST be WASHED and in a condition where you would personally be proud to hand them to someone you knew and valued. Items should be suitable for wearing in a cold damp field, i.e. not party or office clothes.

This is a short donation drop only, as our next delivery will be loading on 17th March. Our collecting times are ONLY:

  • 11 – 12.30 on Saturday 12th March
  • 13.30 – 17.30 on Monday 14th March

If you don’t have any of these items you can still help by funding the costs of transporting them, and of urgently needed baby formula, baby wipes, toilet roll, tissues, gas canisters, & batteries that we can buy in Calais. This is a link to our fundraising site.

We will also have another donation drop starting very soon, so if you have other items you’d like to donate, or would like to help us, please sign up to follow this blog (sign up box to the right). Thank you!