Thank you to all our members and everyone who came to October’s Annual General Meeting and Get Together.
Around 40 people attended the evening and watched presentations on the charity’s achievements over the past year, and our plans for the year ahead. We also listened to three very informative talks from NGO workers, before having our first real catch up over some food and drinks since the pandemic began.
Members of the charity voted to accept the annual accounts and re-elect trustee Ed Sexton. Catharine, Chair of the Executive Committee, then outlined our events and fundraising successes over the past year.
You can view the accounts and a summary of our activities in 2020/21 in our annual report, available online as a PDF at camcrag.org.uk/docs/annualreport2021.pdf
Marissa Green, our new Chair of Trustees, then outlined CamCRAG’s priorities for the year ahead: Firstly, to support the resumption of our regular volunteer convoys to Calais, with the aim of arranging 8 weekends between July 2021 and June 2022. Secondly, to continue to collect donations, and provide funds for their shipping to Greece, Lebanon, and elsewhere, in collaboration with our various partners. Thirdly, to provide direct funds to frontline groups that can make the greatest positive impact on the lives of refugees, with a particularly focus on groups offering legal support.
We then heard from former CamCRAG Chair Elliot Harris about his new company, Pallet Aid, and how it works with CamCRAG through its Aid Hub. Pallet Aid deal with the mounting bureaucracy involved in shipping donations in and around the EU, connecting groups like CamCRAG that collect donations with the logistics organisations that ship it, and finally the frontline NGOs that so desperately need the aid to distribute.
Amber Bauer, founder of the funding charity Donate4Refugees, then introduced some of the NGOs they have supported in Greece and throughout Europe. Amber has recently returned from a research trip to Greece, and reported on the poor conditions in many Greek refugee camps: Families often live together in a single room, with portaloos outside, minimal washing facilities and no cooking areas. There are often few or no communal areas, and many camps are located far from urban centres, which means residents have little to do all day, or any way of expressing themselves.
Noah and Ari from Collective Aid then outlined their warehouse and distribution operation in Calais, which CamCRAG volunteers often support on our convoys. They are currently short of volunteers and funds and, with hundreds of refugees in the area and winter approaching, they expect a difficult few months ahead.
A big thank you to all our speakers, everyone who helped plan and run the event, St Barnabas Church, and all our members and supporters who attended. We hope to see you at another real event soon!