We are currently making snoods
A snood is a wide ring of material, which can be worn as a scarf bunched up around the neck, and/or pulled up over the head. We will sew a square of fabric 70cm by 70cm in half to create a ring. Our aim is to make 1,400 snoods over the winter. This would allow the team in Calais to give a snood to every third person they distribute to, over 14 weeks.
History of the Project: Ponchos and Snoods
In the autumn of 2017 we were considering the problem of how to help refugees in France stay warm, especially at night. Blankets have a short life (regularly discarded within days) partly because they are difficult to carry, and partly because they are often confiscated by the police. Aid organisations in Calais are reluctant to distribute good quality clothing (for example jumpers) until they have several hundred available, because giving to only a few refugees can lead to disagreements and increased tension. Buying hundreds of items of new clothing would be prohibitively expensive for a small charity like CamCRAG. What is needed are cheap, wearable, warm items which can easily be purchased or made in bulk.
Our solution: to turn cheap blankets into wearable ponchos! By bulk purchasing simple blankets, creating a sewing pattern, and organising a weekend sewing session, we were able to produce a trial batch 127 ponchos to send to Calais before Christmas.
They proved popular with refugees, so we made another batch of 300 to go out with our January convoy... and an additional 600 in February. We also provided waterproof ponchos to be given out with each of our blanket ponchos.
We were very proud to hear that, in February 2018, a forum of refugee agencies in the UK and Northern France voted the poncho project as the best out of 11 initiatives for impact and feasibility. This amazing achievement has only been possible due to:
- Over one hundred volunteers giving their time to cut, sew, fold and transport ponchos
- Kind offers of free venues, grants, donations, a bulk-buy discount from Ikea and partnership working with sister groups both in the UK and in France.
In Autumn 2022, capacity and lack of blankets meant that ponchos were no longer viable. We contacted Calais to find out if there was any warm clothing that they needed making, and they asked us to make snoods. This was the perfect project for us as material could be bought in bulk from any fabric shop rather than requiring a specific blanket design, and they are also simple and quick to make, meaning that our volunteers could mass produce hundreds in a single day. We therefore turned our attention to snoods for Winter 2022-2023. We do not yet have plans for what we will do next Winter.