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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

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

Kind regards


Dr Orla Dunn

Consultant in Public Health
Somerset County Council
07795 286 935

Public Health
Somerset County Council

01823 357206

PA: Christine Pearce
01823 357266

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

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!

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.


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!


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.


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’.


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


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.


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!


What a difference we can make!

IMG_1428 (1)

Our ‘One Day To Make A Difference’ event on Saturday at the Silk Mill in Frome was an absolutely outstanding success! How many people came? Well we didn’t count but it was hundreds. Many thanks to Kate, Lorna, Bev, Fiona, all those who covered the town with notices, banners and posters, and The Wochynskis, who did a pied piper trip into town to draw attention to the delights at the Silk Mill. As a measure of how many people came, Keren sold out of her delicious soups (and I can personally vouch for the tomato and red pepper). Linden’s fantastic pop-up cafe was also a huge hit, serving hundreds of cups of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate plus of course the most incredible array of home-baked cakes from so many of our generous (and talented) volunteers.


Kate’s book stall, with comics from Cartoon Kate, was a great success too, and had a constant stream of browsers (and buyers) with lots of bargains on offer. Andrea had great fun on the tombola stall, tempting lots of people to have a go – and with amazing odds of 1 in 5 there were lots of winners! I’m not sure who donated or won the fancy lingerie storage bag, but it was a great talking point!


Our stalls: Tina Seviour‘s jewellery, JoJo’s Shabby Chic,  Funky Wombat Designs‘s bags, Green lady Herbal Apothecary, Abi Crombie‘s textile gifts, and Painted People‘s fancy dress and facepainting were also very popular.


The Wochynskis were simply wonderful, performing for free for us, and providing perfect entertainment that really made the whole event a place where people wanted to linger and chill. Jane from Squares for Blankets knitted and chatted, made good links, and it was great to receive more donated squares on the day too.


Joanne and Kate did a brilliant job selling raffle tickets for what turned out to be a great array of prizes. Not just the from the donors I mentioned in my last post, but also a leather bag from Italy Italy, a voucher for smoothies the Green Monkey cafe, a voucher for an Indian Head massage, and one for a face painting session from Painted People, a beautiful lamp from Red Mud Pottery and Lighting, a bottle of wine from Bill the Butcher and as this is beginning to feel like a memory game I’ll just say: many, many more! Thanks to everyone who donated to both the raffle and the tombola: I didn’t get all your names, but you know who you are!


People were just so generous! Susannah, Ghania, Jeanette, Glenny and Elaine were kept busy with a constant stream of donors bringing in the warm clothing we’d asked for. We had reports that the charity shops in Frome were inundated with people coming in to buy up all their warm men’s hats, scarves, and gloves, and so many pairs of new socks and pants were donated: boxes full – even though they’re compact items. It was really just so heartwarming.


And with so many people contributing so much, in kind, in cash, and in goodwill, we managed to raise an astonishing £1,117.35 in cash on the day, plus another £248.75 online. This was far more than I ever dared hope, and will help us send all the donated goods we have and more out to refugees in need very soon.


I was also overwhelmed by the offers of help we received on the day. I have several potential donation and storage sites that I’ll be visiting soon, and great chats with people who wanted to offer skills to help both our work, and the refugees that will eventually come to settle in our area.

Really this event exceeded my expectations in every way. So many people came together and gave so much. Just goes to prove how much people DO care about the welfare of other human beings, people they’ve never met, and who have through no fault of their own ended up in really quite unimaginably awful circumstances. Thank you to everyone.

Although our fundraising page for this event will close very shortly, you can still donate to our work on our main BT mydonate page. And please do tick the gift aid box if you can: it helps us make even more of a difference!

People contact us every day asking where they can bring their donations for refugees. News on this will follow soon, so please sign up for our mailing list, join our facebook group, or follow this blog via email (scroll up and click link to the right) to make sure you don’t miss it.



One Day To Make A Difference

Saturday 30th January, 10.30-14.00, at the Silk Mill, Frome.

So excited that our big donation drop and fundraising day is nearly here – and it’s going to be fantastic!

Apart from collecting donations for the refugees (only warm clean mens scarves, hats, gloves, new socks & small or medium pants), we’ve plenty of fun things going on. We want not only to raise money to send our latest round of donations out to Calais, but also to celebrate the way so many people in our community have pulled together to help with this effort.


So, we’ve live music from The Wochynskis (from 12.30 – 13.30), delicious hot soups from Keren Hayden of Events Horizon, and rolls from the Old Bakehouse, a fantastic array of homemade cakes, teas, coffee and hot chocolate, a book stall, tombola and raffle.

Helping us keep in mind the reason for our event, we’ll have people from Squares for Blankets showing us how knitting or crocheting squares (or hats) can bring comfort to refugees.

We’ll also have copies of ‘Cartoon Kate‘s fantastic ‘Threads’ comic available. Threads tells the story of Kate’s first trip to volunteer in Calais in the most moving, funny, honest and graphic way.


We have a great variety of stalls for you too:

Jo Mccartney will be bringing ‘JoJo’s Shabby Chic‘ – gifts and interiors.

Vicki Templar will be bringing her wonderful Green lady Herbal Apothecary products.

Abi Crombie will be bringing her handmade home accessories and gifts, made with British fabrics and trims.

Tina Seviour will be exhibiting her sculptural and textural jewellery, made from silver and reclaimed vintage Indian sari silk.

Maia Rees of Funky Wombat Designs will be bringing her handmade, one of a kind vintage tweed and leather handbags.

Painted People will be bringing their fancy dress accessory stall: fairy wings, pixie ears, wands, tiaras, animal ears, pirate hats, foam swords, bubbles, glitter, face painting, glitter tattoos, and finger monsters!

We have amazing raffle prizes, including a painting by Lorna Thomas, hamper of goodies from Hillwalker Fudge, a voucher for a one day writing retreat with Kate McEwan, a signed book by Charles Dowding, a signed book by Kylie Fitzpatrick, jewellery from Goldsmiths Fair exhibitors Oxx Jewellery and Petra Bishai, a Younique gift voucher from Sarah Seewooruttun, bottles, chocolates, and many more besides!

And of course all this is happening at the Silk Mill, who have donated the use of their wonderful venue: many thanks Kate and Damon!

For those who can’t come, but would like to make a donation anyway, please click here!

silk mill jpeg


Bruton donation drop now closed!

Thank you so much for you wonderful response to our January appeal for mens winter clothing, sleeping bags, blankets, rucksacks and torches. Our room is now bursting to the seams, with an increasing amount arriving each of the three weeks! This is the room when we left it neat and tidy on Monday…


And this is the same room a couple of days later (with more bags out of camera sight)!


Although we’ve been sorting as we went along, and most bags of donations arrived beautifully labelled (which really helped), we’ve still got a fair way to go, as you can see.

Our next donation drop will be at the Silk Mill in Frome on Saturday 30th January, from 10.30 – 14.00, and will be for mens winter hats, scarves, and gloves, plus new mens socks and underpants (small and medium) only.

Even if you don’t have any of these items to donate please do come along. Even if you just have a cup of tea, you’ll be helping to fund our next donation delivering trip. All the wonderful donations you can see in the photos will cost us money to transport, and every little bit of financial support is much appreciated.

If you’d like to donate direct now, please visit our BT MyDonate site here.

And we look forward to seeing you on the 30th!

silk mill jpeg

Donation point opens in Bruton!

This week we’re opening our first donation point for 2016: many thanks to all at Mill on the Brue for hosting this! Click here for map

The items we’ll be accepting, address and drop-off times are listed below. It would help us if you would label the bags you bring to say what’s inside them. Many thanks!

Please note this Donation Drop point CLOSES on 21st January 2016!