CamCRAG is a registered charity who organise regular weekend volunteer convoys from Cambridge to Calais. We also collect donations and funds to help refugees in Europe and beyond.
CamCRAG is a registered charity who organise regular weekend volunteer convoys from Cambridge to Calais. We also collect donations and funds to help refugees in Europe and beyond.

Solidarity not Charity

Cambridge to Calais Convoy is something I’ve been wanting to try out for the past year, and I finally
took the leap! I didn’t really know what to expect but as I jumped in the car I was immediately
comforted by meeting a community of like minded people with similar values, and importantly, a
desire to have fun whilst doing it!

The journey to Calais reminds you how close it really is, and the energy and effort that people are
putting into making that journey that we can do in a hop, skip and a jump.

I work in the charity sector but still feel like I lack knowledge about what is happening so close to
home, and learning about it and sharing it with others feels like progress!

Being in the warehouse was a brilliant atmosphere, there’s a soothing almost meditative quality to
counting shoes and putting together hygiene bags. Unlike most things in life you don’t need any
specialist skills or expertise to roll up mats, and pull together pairs of trousers. And – you get to the
satisfaction of seeing what you’ve done after! I always love working as part of a team and
community, any excuse to come together and get something done with a bit of comradery!

I was also amazed by the organisation, and atmosphere that the volunteers have created in the
warehouse. Sometimes when you donate things to charity, you drop things off with a sceptical
feeling of – does this actually make it anywhere helpful? But here we were in a warehouse full of
incredibly organised boxes, labels, and items of clothing that are used and needed.

The long term volunteers have made the warehouse like a kind of home, there was colour
everywhere, creativity sprouting between boxes and balancing upon towers of donations. A seating
area, where people could have tea and rest, and signs and stories in French and English reminding us
of why we were there. I could tell there was a volunteer-family of people there who were faced with
the reality of which a lot of us don’t have to see everyday whilst doing their best to make people feel
more human.

I loved seeing the new WASH facility and hearing all the work and stories from the volunteers, I
couldn’t help but admire their efforts and passion for their work.

You also can’t help but put yourself (literally) in people’s shoes that are needing the distribution of
the items we were preparing. As I was checking tents for holes ‘I wonder what it would be like to be
sleeping in here’, and counting out shoes ‘What would it be like to be putting these on, would they
be comfortable? Would they protect my feet from the weather?’ There is a saying in the warehouse,
‘what you give to people shows what you think of them’ – which will stay with me.

Doing all of this, in a weekend, with a group of people who are kind, fun and happy to roll up their
sleeves and get out of their comfort zone for a weekend was a joy. If you are thinking of doing it –
give it a go – you don’t need any experience, just enthusiasm and there is a strong community
waiting who is very ready to Convoy (and maybe karaoke) with you.

Becca Thomas