July Convoy volunteers

Storms, Sew-Ho and Shoulder Bags

Catharine Walston gives a rundown of the July Convoy

July Convoy volunteersThe 150 mile journey from Cambridge to Calais is normally an easy, stress-free trip and, with the current border controls, wonders of the Eurotunnel and smooth traffic conditions on the M25, should take about 4½  hours. However, July’s convoy saw new CamCRAG records set as the July heatwave and sudden storms caused havoc on Le Shuttle. Some of us set off from Cambridge with a song in our hearts to arrive 8 hours later at the hostel in exhausted silence after queuing for up to 3 hours on the M20, whilst the CamCRAGgers who had wisely taken the ferry cruised into Calais with no difficulties at all and a van-load of vital supplies for the warehouse.

On arrival, the scale of the tent crisis was obvious. The shelves were completely bare. By Saturday evening, our team had checked and stacked over 20 tents. On Sunday, Tony and Ian built the first prototype SOS Tent and got the stamp of approval from the Help Refugees team. The project will clearly be very useful and work will continue with refining the design and sourcing material back in Cambridge. The Sew-Ho corner, which was just being organised in June, was up and running, with several of us spending much of the weekend mending clothes, and making blankets and shoulder bags. For RCK, we brought several boxes of food and lots of willing food preppers. As always, there was a fantastic atmosphere of warmth and cooperation, which continued into our night out at the pub.

It was great to catch up with some former CamCRAG volunteers who had come back to help for longer during the school holidays. Although there are many student volunteers during the summer months, the regularity of the CamCRAG convoys is hugely appreciated by the long-term volunteers in Calais and the large numbers able to get on with the urgent tasks left us time we don’t usually have to go to training sessions and make use of the Info Bus. We were left in no doubt that numbers are increasing again and that this is likely to be a very tough winter.

Our next convoy is 10 to 12 October, and the deadline to sign up is 25 September.
For more information and to apply visit camcrag.org.uk/convoys