A Travellerspoint blog

Calais & Dunkirk

We think actions can speak louder than words and decided to put our hands and time to good use. Although fundamental change doesn't happen with one individual, lots of individuals working together for the right reasons can effect serious change.

sunny 20 °C
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All donations come here, to the Calais warehouse. Before going to the jungle everything must be sorted ready for distribution. This is a huge job with many daily undertakings and the place runs entirely on volunteers.
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The warehouse is also home to Calais Kitchen & Refugee Community Kitchen, suppling ingredients and wood for cooking and hot meals to refugee families in Calais and Dunkirk camps.
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Any clothing and accessories deemed unsuitable for refugees are moved over to the charity shop for volunteers to purchase.
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Sadly this huge mountain represents the clothes donated that are either dirty, torn or completely unsuitable. Would you give wrecked clothes to a friend? Me neither. They will be sold to a fabric recycling place so all is not lost but it is a dispiriting waste of time, energy and human resources.
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As we had a car we found ourselves involved in various different projects during our time volunteering. This included distribution runs to Dunkirk Camp where we supplied mostly Kurdish refugees with various items of clothing.
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The Dunkirk camp has official status so the thousand or so refugees here have better living conditions than those in the jungle. Still, it's a pretty sobering thought that these tiny wooden sheds are temporary homes (especially through the winter) and that living off donated food and clothing is in any way "better".
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Whilst in Dunkirk we helped out in the kitchens preparing food, chopping wood, serving meals from the snack shack and daily logisitics.
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Hollie working with Care 4 Humanity at the Dunkirk womens centre. This fantastic space is a women and kids only refuge, a peaceful place used for a variety of purposes. Hollie joined in sewing patchwork blankets and helping organise the next clothes distribution.
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We have been extremely careful not to photograph refugees and didn't take any photos in the jungle at all as it could potentially harm any asylum claims made by those wishing to live in the UK. Photos, videos and interview from the jungle can easily be found online so we took the decision that our camera would not be used to pry on private lives at this painful time.

It gave us a real sense of perspective to be able to have a break from what we were seeing and explore areas of The Somme and Picardy Coast. A day off helped bring home that this is peoples lives being lived day in day out with no escape and an asylum process that is, at best, dragging it's feet.
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We wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the generous people who donated to our trip to Calais, you know who you are. The donated money went towards:
1. Calais Kitchen food supplies.
2. Mobile phones and credit for kids of the jungle. The aim here is to not allow a single unnacompanied child to go off the radar when the camp is dismantled at the end of Oct (date TBC). Earlier this year a smaller section of the camp was bulldozered and the French and British authorities between them catastrophically droped the ball, allowing180 unaccompanied kids to be unaccounted for completely, right now they could be anywhere (best case scenario they're in another unoffical camp in France, worse case scenario doesn't even bear thinking about).
3. Boots for refugees, winter is fast approaching and there are still hundreds of people in the jungle without appropriate footwear (ie. the only pair of shoes they have is flipflops). Boots are urgently required.

Some further information on refugees and volunteer groups in Calais can be found here:
http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/
Facebook pages:
Calais - people to people solidarity
Care4calais (also http://care4calais.org/donate/)
Calaiskitchen
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/refugee-crisis-amnesty-international-10-countries-host-more-half-uk-needs-to-do-more-a7344171.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/01/child-refugees-despair-calais-camp-close?CMP=share_btn_fb

Posted by TeamZecca 04:56 Archived in France Comments (2)

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