Estere reports on CamCRAG’s weekend volunteering in Calais
On Saturday we found the warehouse relatively quiet, with not many volunteers and strong winds sweeping through. Luckily, the charity shop, consisting mostly of funky clothes inappropriate for distribution, had some colourful warm jumpers in stock, and so everybody was ready to jump in on the most urgently needed tasks. Many from our group worked in the woodyard, having fun chopping and packing wood – everybody is welcome to try, regardless of age and gender. The woodyard was on its last week of operation before closing down for the warmer summer months. But as the weather conditions get more bearable, more people are arriving to Northern France and attempting the crossing, so demand for food, tents and hygiene products is rising.
As usual, many of us spent time helping out in the kitchen. This time the traditional morning onion chopping was done with extra pride, as we were using the brand new knives, purchased and delivered by CamCRAG on the last convoy. In the afternoon, four of our group went on a food distribution in Dunkirk, while the rest formed a conveyor-belt to pack “bento boxes” – the bento’ing has to happen as quickly as possible to avoid food going cold (fast cling-filming turned out to be particularly tricky!). Bento boxes are needed for Calais distributions where they get handed out when a canteen-style distribution is not possible due to heavy police presence or tensions in the camps.
After a lively evening of food, drinks and chats in the Family Pub on Saturday night, Sunday brought calmer weather and more volunteers to the warehouse, and the sorting got into full swing. The amazing long-term warehouse managers, Tansy and Nathan, split volunteers into small teams, each one sorting one class of donations: men’s clothing, women & kids, hygiene, shoes and tents.
There are still piles of donations to go through but Help Refugees are currently limiting the influx of new stuff, and planning to relocate the warehouse over the summer and reorganise how aid is delivered. We were happy to hear that the Refugee Community Kitchen has negotiated to stay in the same space. CamCRAG’s regular, reliable and enthusiastic help is being appreciated as always, and we were reassured that this will be the case after the summer too, with more opportunities for weekend convoy volunteers to make a difference in Northern France.
For more information on our convoys and to apply for the next one visit camcrag.org.uk/convoys