Thank you to everyone who came to CamCRAG’s Annual General Meeting and Get Together last Thursday. We reviewed our successes of the past year, re-elected three trustees, heard harrowing first hand accounts of the current situation in Greece and France, and how the charity intends to respond to those challenges over the year ahead.
CamCRAG Chair Elliot Harris introduced the meeting, and presented our annual report. Highlights of the previous year included January’s sleepout, the Home Art Exhibition in June, the Hills Road Students’ Bike Ride, Val and Marc’s sponsored half marathon, and numerous other gigs and fundraising events: See the back page of our annual report for a list of the many people we are grateful to for their support.
Our donations co-ordinator, Alison, was thanked for all her work organising and sorting donations to go on our weekend trips to Calais. She is now stepping down: We would love to hear from anyone interested in helping with the role, more details online here.
The meeting also heard that Lara, who has been involved with CamCRAG since its inception, stepped back from her frontline role with the poncho project this year. The project itself goes from strength to strength under Kirsten and Jane’s excellent guidance, with a large batch of ponchos ready to go to Calais in the coming weeks, and more being made.
Our trips to Calais will continue (the deadline for applying for November’s convoy is next Wednesday, 23 October), but under new management: CamCRAG thanks Sarah for her many years of planning and managing our core activity, which will now be looked after by Lee.
The charity’s treasurer, Jo, presented the annual accounts, noting that since the reporting period CamCRAG has provided funding to Watershed and funding for Moria camp, reducing our current cash funds somewhat.
Three trustees – Ed Sexton, Terry Spencer and Elliot Harris – were re-elected by a show of hands, with no one against. The meeting was then closed.
We then heard presentations from Amber, from Donate4Refugees, and volunteers from Utopia56. Amber has recently returned from the Greek island camps, and told us about the harrowing and deteriorating conditions in the camps on Lesvos and Samos, both of which have many times over the number of refugees they were designed for.
Mark and Charlotte told us about Utopia56’s work in Calais helping unaccompanied minors, providing hospital trips, and emergency night distributions of humanitarian aid. There are currently between 500 and 1000 refugees, mostly sleeping rough, in both Calais and Dunkirk, including dozens of families and unaccompanied children. Utopia56 run a day centre that provides legal advice and help finding state accommodation.
Elliot then outlined CamCRAG’s plan for the year ahead: To continue our volunteer weekend convoys to Calais, bringing donations to Collective Aid and volunteering with Refugee Community Kitchen and the Woodyard; To consider and plan some longer convoys, most likely to Brussels or Paris; To continue targeted funding support to NGOs in Greece; To continue the poncho project; To support activities intended to improve refugees’ situations and life chances, such as legal advice and psychological support; To continue large fundraisers, such as our winter sleepout, and connect this with our continued support for the annual festival salvage operation.
Elliot also explained that the charity would seek to share the experience and knowledge we have gained over the past four years with other UK NGOs, to assist them with organising events and motivating and managing volunteers.
Over fifty attendees then stayed to enjoy a drink and some Syrian food, talk over what we had heard, and how we can each best get involved over the year ahead.