A football sized area of land filled with makeshift plastic tents is home to about 3000 refugees from around the world, meters away from Calais' ferry port.
The refugees have travelled from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt and most recently Syria, fleeing war and oppression that has engulfed their countries, leaving them with little choice but to abandon their homes.
A number of staff and friends of The Castle have come together to try and help the refugee crisis in Calais in any way they can. Most recently James Turner (a Castle staff member) and the café team have been raising money from the sale of fruit juice; Refu-Juice made from scrumped apples and pears that would have otherwise gone to waste. They have raised a staggering £450 from juice sales alone for charities Secours Catholique and L'auberge Des Migrants working in Calais, so thank you to everyone who has bought and enjoyed a glass of juice!
Conditions in the makeshift camp are becoming increasingly squalid and, with winter on the horizon living conditions are only going to worsen over the next few months. For this reason the Castle group have gone one step further and have set up a donation page with the crowd funding site Just Giving and are running a donation collection site with support from The Castle.
And they need our help!
There are 2 ways you can contribute to support those in urgent need of materials and supplies to see them through the winter:
1. Please visit the Just Giving page and donate what you can and help them reach their £1000 target. Funds raised will be used to buy supplies and materials to help clothe and shelter refugees who face a tough winter.
2. For the next couple of weeks there will be a collection point at The Castle reception for any unwanted outdoor clothing and camping gear that you no longer use and feel can be donated to a good cause. Here is a list of requested items that are desperately needed:
The most important items needed are: Blankets
Jeans (size 30)
So if you have a pair of walking boots or waterproof that are just sat in your cupboard collecting dust, but you’re loathe to just throw them out, please bring them along on your next visit to the centre and donate them to the collection bin.
The group are planning a trip to Calais on 20th November to meet up with volunteers on the ground and deliver the items so please get your donations in as soon as possible. In the next week or so James will also be looking for volunteers to help sort through the collection and package everything up to transport. If you’d like to help in any way please email James.
The refugee crisis is growing and until we can stop the wars, oppression and poverty across the globe it will not get any better. Unfortunately there is a great deal of hostility and misunderstanding towards refugees from both governments and the general public. We’ve become desensitized, unable to see the human faces that are attached to every news story. We assume that their intentions are to take advantage as ‘economic migrants’ and while there will always be opportunists who stand to gain from war and destruction, there are thousands whose lives have been irrevocably shattered by conflict.
Their position in Calais is not one of choice. It is one of desperation.