Category Archives: Uncategorized

Storagebase becomes additional RAISE donation drop point

Following the death of three year old Aylan Kurdi in 2015 many people became more aware of the refugee crisis and started taking action to help. In particular many small groups developed in the UK collecting aid and taking it to Calais.

The network of grassroots groups is gradually becoming less fragmented. We had become aware that there was a second local group, primarily from Midsomer Norton and Radstock, operating as ‘Calais Action South West’ from Storagebase Self Store on the outskirts of Frome.


Dean & Laura from Calais Action South West & Christine & Pippa from RAISE

Over the past few months we have started to work together as we both had the same aims, and it seemed silly not to. RAISE has more local volunteers, and so a number of us have already been out to Storagebase to help the Calais Action South West team sort, pack and load their donations. We have also transported some of the aid they collected.

Calais Action South West have recently decided to stop operating independently of RAISE, and to join forces with us. They bring with them lovely donors and volunteers, and an additional donation drop point in Storagebase, all of which we warmly welcome.

One brilliant thing is that Storagebase are happy for aid donations to be dropped off during their opening hours, without a volunteer being there to receive them (like with our satellite donation drop at Mill on the Brue in Bruton). This means we can improve our service to donors, offering 7 day drop offs.

As the unit we have in Storagebase is smaller, we can’t do the detailed sorting that we achieve in Your Storage Space, where we now have getting on for 100 categories to sort to. We therefore aim to quality check and do basic sorting of donations in Storagebase, and then move donations across for fine sorting.

We may run other specific services and projects from Storagebase too, as things develop.

We will continue to receive donations every Monday afternoon and the third Saturday morning of every month in Your Storage Space, and would encourage people to bring larger donations direct to this, our main sorting space.

We are incredibly grateful to both Your Storage SpaceStoragebase and Mill on the Brue, for continuing to support the vital humanitarian work that we do in RAISE.

Storagebase Self Storage can be found at 1 Cornbrash, Commerce Park, Frome BA11 2FD.

100 handbags

We have been given the opportunity to send some aid to refugees in Thessaloniki and Lesvos in Greece with UK charity Hope and Aid Direct. This is great news: it’s not proved easy for us to get aid to Greece in the past.

As they already have aid lined up for most of the five trucks going to Greece in January, we won’t be able to fit in much from our warehouse this time, but we will be able to squeeze in some pushchairs, suitcases, and …. handbags!

Now handbags are a new thing for us to collect, but one of the trademarks of Hope and Aid Direct is to take handbags for the women, filled with womanly things. Although this may sound like a bit of a luxury (they’ve never appeared on any needs list I’ve seen) handbags are something that many women wouldn’t normally leave their homes without. They can be incredibly useful, as well as symbolic and comforting, and can help to restore dignity. Once filled with a selection of small gifts, it’s easy to understand why Hope and Aid Direct’s handbags are so very popular with the refugees.

So, what we need from you now is LOVINGLY FILLED HANDBAGS! As with all donations, they must be in good condition. Please fill your handbag with a selection of small gifts, like: a piece of jewellery, lip balm, wet wipes, hand cream, comb or brush, gloves, tissues, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary towels (not tampons), a mirror, a little make up or perfume, a scarf, maybe a little note or card with a greeting, and other things that might normally be carried in a handbag. Please do not include: used cosmetics, food, or anything sharp.

There is a very quick turnaround on this as the convoy is leaving the UK in January and we’ll need to pack and load all the handbags, so the deadline on this is 7th January.

To make this easy for you we have town centre drop off points in both Frome and Bruton, as well as our regular donation drop points.

Oh, and it would be really great if you would print and share the poster! Many thanks!


Somerset Smiles are flooding in!

Our Somerset Smiles campaign is going brilliantly, with stacks of bags being left at all our drop off points!

Especial thanks go to the pupils at St Julian’s primary school in Wellow, who not only gave us many wonderful gifts for Somerset Smiles bags, but also this lovely press release!



It’s not too late if you still haven’t dropped your Somerset Smiles bags in. The giving of these gifts ties in with Christmas but most of the children receiving the bags will be Muslim, and they’ll be given the bags in the New Year. So please keep them coming!

Frome FM radio interview


For those who weren’t able to come to the open meeting earlier this week, but who would like an update on what we’re doing in Frome to help refugees, please listen to this ‘All About Frome‘ radio interview from 22nd November.

Rupert Kirkham interviews Christine Kaltoft about RAISE, and John Careswell about the Frome Syrian Refugee Support Group.


Refugees – Frome and Somerset – an update

Please come along to a public meeting to find out what’s happening locally to support refugees, both those in Somerset and further afield.

There will be speakers from the Frome Syrian Refugee Support Group, Somerset County Council, the YMCA, Bath University, and RAISE.

Free entry.

19.30 – 21.00, Tuesday 29th November, Trinity Church, Trinity Street, BA11 3DE.

Please walk or park offsite!


November update

In the month and a half since I posted my last update things have changed radically in Calais, and this has dominated our work.

The eviction of refugees from the Jungle was announced and has now taken place, although many of the children are still there, waiting for the authorities to safeguard them. The situation is not stable. Although many of the adult refugees have been taken to centres around France, many others are street homeless. The volunteer agencies on the ground are having to develop their response on a daily basis, dealing first and foremost with the children still in the camp, who are receiving no official care services. If you want up to date information on events in the Jungle, please see the breaking news page on Calaidipedia.

In Somerset, we continue to collect the full range of aid. We will resume deliveries to the warehouses in Calais as soon as they are in a position to receive them, and in the meantime are still sending aid to the Middle East and Southern Europe. The only item we have stopped collecting is suitcases: many thanks for all you donated over the last few weeks!

In October we held two very successful fundraising events. Firstly the Mega Sale, which  Ruth Wajsblum co-ordinated, raised £562.40 (plus 3 euros & a trolley token). Many thanks to all those who helped, bought, and donated, and especially to Sun Street Chapel for letting us use your lovely venue.

Later in October Linden Corbin organised ‘Raising the Roof!’, a benefit at the Silk Mill. This raised an amazing £1,351.78, through ticket sales, donations, and a raffle. Many thanks to all those who were involved, especially the Backwood Redeemers, the Inbredz, DJ Mrs P, Klumpox Visuals, the Silk Mill, and all those who donated prizes for the raffle.

Thanks to these two events and a massive number of aid donations – particularly of desperately needed suitcases – we have been able to mount an excellent response to the urgent request for help from Calais. As well as buying bottled water for those on the move, and contributing to the fuel costs of some journeys to France and moving refugees to safe houses, we have donated £500 for refugees phone credit and £500 to the Help Refugees vulnerabilities team. We are still standing by to help with urgent needs as they arise, and if you can help with this, please donate on our fundraising site here.

Meanwhile it has been an incredible time in terms of donations. Many thanks to all the individuals who have contributed, and also to St Mary Redcliffe School for a whole van full of excellent aid, and to All Hallows Preparatory School for a wonderful donation of food from their harvest festival. Thanks also to all the volunteers who came in for extra sorting and packing sessions. We sent five very large loads of aid out to Calais in a very short time, which is no mean feat!

A brief update on our caravan Raising Hope. We had great fun loading up at Your Storage Space, and particularly welcomed the donation of money for a large box of food from three local girls. Kitt and Thea Whisstock and Matilda Dembo had sold lemonade and biscuits to raise funds for charitable causes, and donated half to RAISE, which was fantastic. Rob & Linden Corbin got Raising Hope to Calais just as the threat of the evictions was heard. Thankfully, a decision was made not to tow more caravans into the Jungle at that point. Had Hope got there a week earlier she would probably not have lasted long. Instead Hope is now housing a long term volunteer at the L’Auberge warehouse in Calais: which is a great outcome!

We have also continued to support the (very few) refugees resettled in our area, both by helping to furnish and equip homes, and by putting potential volunteers in touch with the lead agencies for specific tasks. At the moment we have outstanding requests for bicycles for teenage boys, a television, video & dvd player, and an electric wheelchair or buggy, so if you can help with any of those please email:

Coming soon: we will be launching Somerset Smiles, a initiative to send gift bags to children displaced by conflict in Syria; and a public meeting about helping refugees in Frome with other local organisations. Please email to be added to our mailing list:

Calais Update

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


-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 Email 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 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

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!