a little kindness at Yestival goes a long way
a letter from yes triber helen spencer…
Having just volunteered with Help Refugees in Calais, I have seen first hand that there are still 100s of refugees despite the destruction of "The Jungle" and the situation is no longer making our news. These people have travelled 1000s of miles, undergone horrific ordeals, to be stuck in Calais sleeping in forests, under tarps or tents, in awful conditions. They are moved on every few days by the fearsome French Police with their possessions often confiscated and their tents slashed. With winter approaching fast, their situation will get worse and worse... that's where you might be able to help a little.
As adventurous folk, I wondered if you had any spare outdoor equipment lurking in your attic - maybe a sleeping bag you no longer use, a warm jacket, a or even a tent you could donate to give these people some comfort and warmth? Perhaps you have other clothes such as a hoodie you no longer need, or could donate toiletries or UHT milk? In fact, anything on the image below would be HUGELY appreciated!
If you are donating clothes - please ensure that they clean, and in good repair, as nothing is given out to refugees that we wouldn't wear ourselves.
I will set up a donation tent at Yestival for you to drop anything on this image off at any point during the weekend, all of which will be collected on the Sunday afternoon and taken to Calais.
If you are unable to make a donation, then how about volunteering in Calais? You would be welcomed with open arms at the super organised Help Refugees warehouse in Calais, even if it's for a few days. You can help in so many ways, even if you are unskilled (like me!). I cleaned and mended tents which had been abandoned at various British Festivals and bought to Calais, I sorted clothes into sizes, and ensured that they were clean and had no holes in, and I spent a day using my surgical suturing skills to repair clothes and zips in a corner of the warehouse called "Sew Ho". I also volunteered at the Refugee Community Kitchen which is in the same warehouse; chopping vegetables in their amazing industrial standard kitchen as part of a mammoth effort to prepare 1500 hot meals per day. I then had the opportunity to serve this wonderful food up to 700 Kurdish refugees living in a forest in Dunkirk and spend time with them, sharing stories and dreams.
We are lucky to have Josie talking at Yestival, who set up the amazing charity that is "Help Refugees". She will no doubt talk further about the situation, but I am more than happy to chat to anyone about the volunteering side and the practicalities of how to apply to be a volunteer, how to get to Calais, where to stay etc - come and find me or Simi over Yestival weekend!
Thanks in advance for your kindness,
Helen and Simi