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.
group photo December 2023 convoy

Cleaning, sorting and chips

Rowan Ibbotson reports on CamCRAG’s last weekend volunteering convoy to Calais of 2023

We arrived in Calais in the evening and, after a brief stop at the chip shop, met our fellow volunteers at the pub where we got to know each other over some drinks.

On Saturday morning, we arrived at the warehouse a little after 9am. We were met by the wonderful Charlotte from Refugee Women’s Centre and the lovely Andy and Sandra from the Refugee Community Kitchen.

working in the woodyard

We were divided into vegetable slicers, garlic dicers, tent constructors and wood choppers. I was in the wood chopping team and spent an incredibly satisfying morning splitting logs whilst listening to some great tunes.

The tent team worked through 50 tents of different sizes and designs, and the kitchen team diced mountains of garlic. When the bell rang for lunch, we all gathered in the break area and helped ourselves to a delicious spicy curry.

In the afternoon we took on a deep clean of the kitchen and left it shiny for the regular volunteers to use throughout the week.

We had the collective feeling of work well done that evening, so allowed ourselves a long Saturday night filled with celebrations. Some of us took a dip in the sea (which was freezing!) then we gathered at a restaurant for a big group curry. After that we moved onto Le Chat Bleu and finally performed a stunning rendition of Zombie at the karaoke bar.

a relaxing moment in the warehouse

On Sunday morning, the amazing Marie met us at the warehouse and we sorted donations. We transformed the “corridor of shame” into the “stacked shelves of beautiful order”, sized a crate-full of jumpers, and put together emergency packs ready for distribution in January.

In the afternoon we did a deep clean of Le Wash, a community space/laundrette in town, where special recognition is due to Tamsin and Rowland who stayed on after the rest of us had left to mop the floors until they sparkled.

The work was satisfying and the company brilliant. I can’t recommend the convoy experience enough and I’ll certainly be going again!

Do you want to spend a weekend in Calais providing practical help to NGOs that support refugees? Find out more about our convoys and register for the next one at camcrag.org.uk/convoys

group photo December 2023 convoy