Our group, which was set up last year to raise money and send aid to the Calais refugee camp, has now been awarded charity status.
The group was set up as Cambridge Calais Refugee Action Group to send convoys from the city to the Jungle refugee camp. This camp has now been shut down by the French Government but there is still a desperate need for support to help those who have crossed Europe fleeing war and terrorism.
We have now changed our name to Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group to reflect the change in both the situation in Northern France and our ongoing work.
Lara Brettell, chair of the group, said: “Gaining charity status is fantastic news for us – it means we can raise even more money to support the many thousands of refugees who are arriving on Britain’s doorstep each month.
“Although the Jungle camp may be gone, the refugee crisis has not gone away. Our country has shown great compassion and empathy towards refugees fleeing desperate situations in the past – and for many of us nothing has changed.
“We recently launched an appeal to raise £10,000 and we are already more than half way there, and we are collecting donations of vital items as well as planning our next convoy for the 9th-11th of December. We continue to work with trusted partners on the ground in Northern France to ensure we are providing the best assistance we can to the refugees there.”
The group organised its 11th convoy at the weekend, and has now enabled around 280 people to go to Calais, many of those have then gone on to arrange other trips independently.
Together we have sorted mountains of clothes, cut up sack loads of onions and peeled endless cloves of garlic, built shelters, taught lessons, checked tents, made up welcome packs of clothes, packed toiletry bags, distributed food, sorted shoes, helped clean up the camp, packed dried food for thousands of people, chopped wood, amongst other things.
The shape of the future situation in Calais is unknown. The organisations working in the warehouse – Help Refugees, Calais Kitchens and the Refugee Community Kitchen – are all looking at what form their services will take in the future. What is certain is that there are still refugees needing support. As long as there are still organisations working to support refugees in Northern France we will continue to find ways to work with them by providing money, aid and volunteers. In the mean time we are also discussing other options for convoys and exploring other partnership possibilities with refugee support organisations.