Maggie and Sara (our new convoy coordinators) have booked a convoy weekend for 3-5 September 2021. This is still only provisional as we have no idea whether it is going to be possible yet, but the youth hostel is keeping rooms for us and the warehouses are expecting us. Booking won’t open to volunteers for a couple of months, but that gives everyone plenty of time to get their passports up to date, extend their car insurance and generally prepare. See details below.
Post-Brexit convoy requirements
Following Brexit you must now have at least six months left on an adult or child passport to travel to France.
The Brexit deal includes a reciprocal healthcare scheme to enable British travellers visiting the EU to get medically necessary healthcare for a reduced cost or for free. If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), it will still be valid, and when it runs out you will be able to apply for its new equivalent: the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The card is free and available from the NHS.
- Full and valid driver’s licence. If you do not have a photo card driving licence you will likely need an International Driving Permit (IDP), available from the post office .
- V5C vehicle registration document .
- Passport with at least 6 months until expiry .
- Motor insurance Green Card. Request this at least 6 weeks prior to travel from your insurance providers. A Green Card is a document that proves you have insurance to legally drive in the country you’re visiting. Although it’s called a Green Card, it doesn’t have to be printed on green paper. It’s also called the International Motor Insurance Card.
- Reflective (‘hi-vis’) jackets for all passengers.
- Warning triangle.
- Two NF-approved breathalysers.
- Headlamp beam deflectors.
- GB sticker (if you have non GB-symbol or GB Union Jack symbol plates only).
- Please note that speed camera detectors and sat-navs with camera locations are not permitted .
What’s the need?
Although the Calais camp was dismantled in 2016, there are still many hundreds of refugees living rough in the scrublands around the town, many of them children, under constant pressure from the police and hostile local government.
The aid groups operating from the warehouse run by L’Auberge des Migrants, which include Refugee Community Kitchen, The Calais Woodyard and Utopia56, continue to distribute food, sanitary kits, clothing, tents and sleeping bags, and CamCRAG is proud to support them by sending weekend convoys of donations and volunteers. The warehouse, and a second one run by Collective Aid, also provides aid to associations operating in Dunkirk, Paris and elsewhere in Europe.
What would I do?
There are numerous tasks that need doing in Calais, and no previous experience is required. Volunteers sort and pack donations, peel and prepare food, load and unload vans. No one is paid and there is a great team spirit – as well as an excellent lunch provided by Refugee Community Kitchen.
What’s it like?
Estere went on her first convoy in June 2018 – follow this link to read her report. You can also read Freya’s first time convoy experience from September 2019.
Here’s what some volunteers from previous convoys have said:
“Be open minded, willing to help with whatever needs doing, take plenty of layers, be prepared that your experiences will change your perspectives on returning home!”
“Working alongside amazing people, who were giving up their time to help, was quite emotional and very very humbling. I don’t think ‘rollercoaster’ is a word that can be overused.”
“The moment you actually act, you are there to help, you give some tiny hope to the refugees and it is something that penetrates deep inside. It is like planting a seed for the future. So just do it.”
Sol Escobar made this short film of our January 2019 convoy:
When do you go?
Convoys leave Cambridge on Friday evenings and return on Sunday evenings. We stay in the youth hostel in Calais and, having dropped off donations collected by CamCRAG over the previous weeks, work two full days in the warehouse. See the top of this page for the dates of upcoming convoys and a link to apply the next one.
I’d love to but I’m not free at weekends!
We are considering running midweek convoys, possibly Tuesday to Thursday. If you would be interested in this please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to go but I can’t afford it!
We recognise that not everyone who would like to volunteer can afford to go to Calais. We therefore have a limited number of subsidised places, for which CamCRAG will pay accommodation, leaving just personal food to be paid by the volunteer. Applicants will need to demonstrate evidence of financial need (e.g. housing benefit or JSA). In the first instance please email email@example.com.
OK sign me up!
Great! Dates of future convoys are at the top of this page, along with info on how to sign up. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org