Blog

Update from Help Refugees in Turkey

The Help Refugees team have made their first visit to Turkey in anticipation of an increased need of aid after the EU/Turkey deal to turn back refugees from Europe.

We started our trip in Istanbul, home to 500,000 Syrian refugees. Our first trip was to one of the few free schools educating Syrian children. Many of their stories are unimaginable. Here they are learning the full Syrian curriculum including English, Turkish and many other key subjects. Some of these children have been out of education for years and this school is the only thing keeping them off the streets, selling tissues and begging for their families.

We met with Project Lift who help Syrian children with trauma through movement, music and art. We were blown away with the incredible work they do.

We were also able to meet up with our friends The White Helmets (The Civil Defence) who showed us pictures of the ambulances we bought in action in Syria (more on that soon).

We then traveled to Gaziantep, the closest major city to the Syrian border, where 400,000 Syrian refugees now live in a city with a population of 2m. 107,000 of these refugees are children that should be at school. Many live on the street and those that have found accommodation are struggling with rising rents. Whilst it is easier for a Syrian to find work in Turkey than Europe, they often earn poverty wages and are exploited by employers.

We met Ali who runs the incredible Geged organisation. They match make volunteers from around the world to local projects in need in Gaziantep. Through them we are providing the start up funding for a food programme for the poorest Syrian families in the area. They also help get street children into school and provide much needed respite spaces for those infants most in need.

We visited an orphanage for 84 Syrian children some of whom are under 1 years old. Whilst it’s so important that these kids have some sanctuary the conditions in the building were poor. The organisation survives on hand to mouth donations and could do with as much help as they can get.

Our last meeting was with the Syrian American Medical Service who provide medical services inside Syria as well as in most major refugee camps in the region. When the White Helmets pull people from the rubble they are often treated at SAMS clinics. Help Refugees talked about how SAMS could help us by sending doctors to areas of need in Europe and how we can assist in the camps.

This trip strengthened Help Refugees commitment to assisting grass roots projects who are consistently the first responders to the most immediate and long term needs of displaced people.

Update from Turkey (2)

Update from Turkey (3)


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Idomeni – Who’s helping and how? Update on latest situation

The Help Refugees team have just been in Idomeni, visiting projects we already support and assessing how best to roll out further aid.We found around 10-12,000 refugees in the main camp with approximately 65% consisting of women and children. There are also 3 smaller camps in the area, two in petrol stations – BP with around 200 refugees, EKO with around 1,500 refugees and Hotel Hara with around 500. Almost all the refugees are living in tents with some are in the industrial sized MSF tents. Most of these tents are not suitable for the cold and blustery weather conditions. Night time temperatures can drop to minus 2. By day, teams of volunteers work round the clock to replace the many tents ruined by the wind and try to ensure everyone has basic protection from the elements for the night ahead.

 

map

 

The camp is lacking sufficient hot water and hygiene facilities, consequently there is a lot of disease – mainly respiratory (exacerbated by burning plastic). At night you can hear children coughing continuously in tents. There is also Hep A, Hep B, Chickenpox and Gastrointestinal illness.

Food provision is massively improving. Two weeks ago people were hungry but several groups have quickly responded and now ADM cooks 8,000 meals per day for all the camps in the area. Hot Food Idomeni headed up by Barry, Rick and Chris, long term volunteers from Calais, provide 4,000 hot meals a day. Hummus Rights Project provide wraps in the morning and afternoon. Team Bananas do bananas and baby food in the mornings. Help Refugees also recently supported The Bristol Skipchen in providing emergency meals to Idomeni.

 

boy and logs

 

The need for new clothing is great and difficult to organise especially as the weather as been so bad of late. Intervolve are the main clothing distributors. They have over night shifts distributing the most needed items and will soon start to operate 24/7.

Up until now there has been one distribution point for the whole camp which is for all forms of non food distribution in camp A. Now one will open in camp B.

In the absence of official information being provided there is a 24/7 information point run by volunteers. This tent is not official and consequently the information given is limited and not always correct.

Tensions have been rising in the camp in the last few days. The political situation is fluid but the border remains closed. Many refugees still believe the border will open, volunteers advise this is not the case.

Authorities are giving the refugees three options:
1. Apply for asylum in Greece
2. Apply for family reunification
3. Apply for the relocation programme.

The biggest obstacle with these options is that they can only be applied for via a Skype appointment between 10-11am with the Greek Home Office. In reality this is just NOT happening, the system is frequently down (it was at time of writing) with the UNHCR saying they hope it will run again shortly. In addition very few refugees have access to Skype.

tents behind fence

The Greek Police are respectful and helpful and generally have a great relationship with both refugees and volunteers, however it’s been reported that when a problem/ violence occurs the police don’t appear to respond.

MSF are on the ground and doing incredible work although, as everywhere in this crisis, their resources are limited. However, they have now appointed a coordinator to work with independent volunteers who are making great inroads in getting aid where it needs to be.

UNHCR/ IRC/ Praxis/ Save the Children all have a visible presence but it is clear that the camp would not be running and the refugees would not be surviving without the rapid response of the independent volunteer movement, particularly those headed up by the inspiring efforts of Aslam Obaid – whom Help Refugees are proud to support.

Following the creation of Greek military camps, buses arrived at camp to relocate 1000 people. They were being taken to two camps for Syrians and Iraqi’s and one for Afghans. The government said that the conditions would be better than Idomeni and that for Syrian/Iraqi’s their right to remain would be extended. UNHCR were unable to confirm the conditions would indeed be an improvement and that the Afghan camp would not turn into a detention centre. Consequently volunteers felt uncomfortable to encourage the move and once again due to the lack of information refugees did not feel confident to go.

Help Refugees are building key relationships with the grassroots groups working here on the frontline so that we can continue to fund and support their efforts in providing basic humanitarian aid. The situation is appalling but we will do everything in our power to alleviate some of the suffering.

children at water

 


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the

refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to

escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing

immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni

and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our

Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank

you!

Read more

Calais Needs: Items needed as of Monday 28th March

Supplies urgently needed in Calais as refugees face prospect of losing their homes. Our warehouse shelves are bare. We need essentials like sleeping bag, blankets, warm clothing and torches so that no-one is left out in the cold. If you can donate, even one small thing via helprefugees.lesiurefayre.com we’d be hugely grateful.

Leisure Fayre deliver direct to Calais and give a 20% discount.

Thank You!

Calais urgent needs


The items at the top of the list are needed urgently.

FOOD: we are running VERY LOW on food supplies. Material food donations are much more sustainable and logistically easier to arrange, so if you have funds available and are planning a delivery to the Auberge/Help Refugees warehouse PLEASE BRING:

  • Food donations more important!!
  • 1l oil
  • 1kg rice
  • 1kg sugar
  • tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel)
  • biscuit packets
  • tinned goods (tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • tea and coffee
  • 750g salt
  • tinned fruit and veg
  • vegetable stock cubes
  • 1l UHT milk
  • onions and garlic and other fresh fruit and veg
  • bags of nuts and raisins

Please bring tins with ring pull tops and make sure everything is IN date!

  • Volunteers, especially if you can stay more than a day or two! (if you wish to volunteer, please email volunteerincalais@gmail.com )
  • Building materials – especially pallets!! (if you are bringing any or have any building skills you’d like to put to good use, please email calaisbuild@gmail.com)
  • Blankets and duvets!!
  • Sleeping bags
  • Tents ( 4 man tents or larger)
  • Waterproof warm winter coats and waterproof trousers
  • Backpacks and rucksacks
  • Tarpaulins
  • Camp mats
  • Firewood
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Wind up/ solar torches and lanterns

Clothing:

All

  • Socks and Underwear (men’s, women’s and children’s)
  • Goody bags of hats, gloves and scarves

Men

  • Waterproof walking boots high ankle or trainers size especially sizes 42 and 43
  • Small trousers (size 28 and 30)
  • S + M jumpers
  • Waterproof trousers
  • S + M tracksuit bottoms
  • S long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies

Women

  • Boots/ shoes up to size 39.  No heels!
  • Smaller cup size bras (up to 36C)
  • Warm, Waterproof coats (S + M)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Trousers (S, M, L) – jeans and tracksuit bottoms
  • Long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies (S + M)

Other:

  • Flat pack cardboard boxes (size 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48)
  • Hygiene items: toilet roll, deodorant, baby wipes, shampoo, conditioner, razors, toothpaste, moisturiser, shaving cream, tissues

Please only bring item from this list. We cannot currently accept any other items items.

HOW TO ORGANISE GOODS

Try to concentrate on one or two items as a large amount of one item is much quicker and easier to distribute than a mixed load of many items.

It is very important that goods are clean, pre-sorted and clearly labelled e.g. a box of walking boots size 44, a bag of men’s jeans size 32, or pre-packaged food parcels.

If you want to be a real star then the best box sizes are 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48

HOW TO DONATE

To deliver aid to the warehouse and/or to arrange distribution in the camp with the support of experienced volunteers, please complete this form

If you have any questions, please email calaisdonations@gmail.com


CLICK AND DONATE FOR DELIVERY STRAIGHT TO CALAIS

The wonderful people at Leisure Fayre have made it super easy to get these urgently needed items directly to Calais. Calais urgently needs sleeping bags and blankets.

Go to LesiureFayre, click on the Help Refugees logo to get to our specially selected list of most needed items and make your selection. To get 20% discount and free delivery to Calais, use the login and password provided on the checkout page.

Many thanks to Leisure Fayre for being so kind!

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Food to Idomeni – Urgent Response to Crisis by Bristol Skipchen

Six months ago we began our partnership with the Bristol Skipchen helping to plan, support and fund their incredible journey from Bristol to the Greek Island of Lesvos where they built and ran a ‘Skipchen’ serving thousands of hot meals to refugees daily.

As boats arriving in Levos have decreased and the numbers of refugees stranded in Athens have grown exponentially, the Skipchen team decided to relocate to the Greek mainland to respond to urgent needs there.  On their way to Athens a desperate call came from Idomeni, asking for assistance. In excess of 14000 refugees were stuck there and starving.

With the support of Help Refugees, Skipchen were able to act fast to get to Idomeni and have served 6000 meals to thousands of women, children and men over the past week.

We would like to thank the entire Skipchen team for their inspirational attitude and tireless work, which we can only support with your continued help. Please consider donating to support them here:https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/bristolskipchen1

This is team leader Sam’s full account of their time in Idomeni:

After hearing alarming accounts from colleagues and friends of the dire situation on the Greek-Macedonian border we decided that we should put our Athens project on hold for a few days and help with emergency food relief. We had the van packed with blankets from Lesvos and we set of Friday evening. It is a 6-8 hour drive to the border and by midnight we were exhausted so decided to pull of the motorway and find a bed until morning.

We ended up in the bizarre seaside resort, 40 miles south of Thessaloníki. Holiday towns off season always make for strange stopovers but this place had a particularly surreal atmosphere due to the amount of fur shops. After a much needed 7 hours sleep we hit the road again heading for Polykastro, where the Park hotel on the edge of town has been converted into a 24/7 volunteer hub.

An abandoned building over the road served as a warehouse for blankets and clothes, every room was full but the management were happy for volunteers to camp in the back garden. We made the most of a break in the relentless rain to unload the van in to the warehouse and set up our tent. There was a team dubbed ‘Hot food Idomeni’ who had driven down from Calais 3 days before, preparing dhal for 2,000 in a (covered area) adjacent to the hotel and teams were at work sorting clothes and other supplies under the shelter of the abandoned petrol station next door.

We were immediately greeted by familiar faces from Lesvos and were filled in on what was happening. We then set off to find wholesalers to get the ingredients we needed. Because time was of the essence and we had limited equipment we decided on a menu of cheese and tomato sandwiches and boiled eggs. Not surprisingly it took us longer than expected to find a decent wholesaler that could provide the quantities of produce we needed for 4,000 meals so it was 6pm before we made it back to the hotel.

back of van

 

queue to van

 

The next morning we rose early to start the prep, our first job was to get the egg boiling process under way. With the one pot we had, it took around an hour per 500 eggs and we had 3,000 to get through. As this was happening we assembled a team of willing volunteers and turned the outdoor seating area of the Park Hotel in to a mini sandwich making rave, heavy drum and bass helping us become parts of a well oiled machine, we were no longer humans but choppers, spreaders, slicers and wrappers. Like any process it takes time to get in to the swing of things and 2 hours in we had only done a couple of hundred of sandwiches and were a little worried we would never be ready on time but we learned fast and by the end they were flying out.

For four days we were at the Greek Macedonian border making and distributing food. Though the authorities were due to clear the camp on Sunday, thousands of people are still there. The main camp was flooded, some toilets were finally put in while we were there, and there are no showers. There is no disability access for those in wheelchairs. People also stay on the forecourts of petrol stations in tents and in abandoned houses and hotels, often in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. Most people have inadequate clothing and footwear and when what they do have is wet there is nowhere for them to dry themselves apart from small, smoky fires in the rain.

On Sunday a hunger strike was called and although a camp wide hunger strike was clearly impossible given the numbers of people involved we can empathise with those who called it and understand their need for autonomous action. Why would any sane human want to be sustained in these conditions? As activists and as volunteers this is a difficult position to be in. Are we propping up the governments of Europe while they neglect the most basic human rights of so many or are we just humans doing the best we can with the little we are able to give? Probably both. On Monday approximately 1500 people tried to cross the border by walking through a river in to Macedonia. Three people died in the attempt and everyone else was arrested and returned to Greece the following day. While we were there we served almost 6000 meals and talked to a lot of people. The question we were most often asked was ‘When will the border open?’

We left Idomeni on Monday evening after having handed our equipment and contacts to a small group of independent volunteers who will continue to distribute 3,000 portions a day


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the

refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to

escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing

immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni

and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our

Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank

you!

Read more

First children arrive in UK from Calais ‘Jungle’ through Safe Passage legal route

On Monday 21 March, for the first time, unaccompanied minors who had previously been stuck in the Calais jungle, will travel safely and legally to the UK to be with their families through the Dublin III Treaty’s provisions. The three children, who until now had been forced to choose between stowing away in lorries or putting their fates in the hands of people smugglers to reach their families, will arrive at St Pancras by Eurostar having been supported by Citizens UK’s Safe Passage legal programme. They will be greeted by actors Juliet Stevenson and Toby Jones who have backed their efforts to be reunited with their loved ones in the UK.

The children who have spent last winter living in tents and makeshift shelters in the Calais ‘Jungle’, will be reunited with family members in the UK while their asylum claims are assessed. This is the first time the Dublin III process has worked, and follows a long campaign by a number of charities and public figures to reunite unaccompanied children in Calais with their families.

The Dublin III Treaty was first introduced in January 2013 and states that refugees must claim asylum in the first safe country they reach in Europe. However, where an unaccompanied minor has nuclear family in a different EU country, a “take charge” request should be issued on their behalf so that they can travel to that country to be with their family while their asylum claim is assessed there instead. Today will be the first time this process has ever worked for a child transferred from France to Britain. This builds on a court case in January which forced the government to set aside the failing Dublin III process and admit four Syrian boys.

However, while today marks an important milestone in reuniting children with their loved ones, the team supporting children in Calais from Citizens UK report that every stage of the Dublin III process is taking too long. Citizens UK have identified 150 children with similar claims, 70 of whom have active cases within the Safe Passage project, who are currently stuck in conditions of destitution and risking their lives daily. One such boy, Masud, lost his life in January as he tried to reach his sister in the UK in the back of a lorry.

Rabbi Janet Darley, spokesperson for Citizens UK, said: “Today, we look forward to celebrating the arrival of these three vulnerable children, who have already experienced more loss and hardship than any child should have to bear. Tomorrow, we will be returning to the work of reuniting the rest of the 150 children who are still stuck in the system, waiting to be reunited with their families in the UK. We call on the government to speed up this process so that the children can be where they belong; with their families in the UK.”

Laura Griffiths, lead on Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project said, “These boys are living in utter destitution, in the freezing mud, and risking their lives daily as they struggle to reunite with their loved ones. This is a major step forward for these three young lads, but more must be done to make the system work for all those eligible immediately.”

Josie Naughton of Help Refugees, said: “It is a relief to know that tonight these three children will finally be safe and warm and with their loved ones in the UK. They are just 3 of the estimated 150 unaccompanied minors in Calais who have the legal right under Dublin 3 to be reunited with their British families. We will continue to campaign until all are reunited.”


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the

refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to

escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing

immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni

and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our

Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank

you!

Read more

Watch Video – Hassan Akkad at ‘Letters Live’ for Help Refugees

We were privileged to be invited to be part of the Letters Live event in London last week. Each night an array of celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law, Sir Ian McKellan, Gillian Anderson, Sir Bob Geldof, John Bishop, Shappi Khorsandi, Peter Capaldi and Olivia Coleman read moving, hilarious, insightful and tragic letters from past and present.

However, for us the highlight was ‘A Letter to Europe’ written by a refugee in the camp in Calais calling on the governments and people of Europe to stop turning a blind eye to the abysmal and inhumane conditions there and to open their hearts and open their borders. The letter states We are not terrorists. We are not soldiers. We are not politicians. We are just ordinary people in pursuit of our peaceful life’ and goes on to say that this situation will put the history of the 21st Century to shame.

Hassan second Copy 01 from Letters Live on Vimeo.

The letter was read by our friend Hassan, a Syrian refugee and former English teacher who was imprisoned by the Assad regime, before making the perilous journey to Europe, overcoming near death on the way. It brought the entire audience to tears, and was followed by a standing ovation. It was truly a proud moment to watch Hassan, flanked by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jude Law take a bow at the end of the night.

Text of letter written by Iranian Refugee Hossein.

Dear People of Europe,

Children, women, fathers and brothers just want to live.

Now they are fleeing from their home and countries, you call them refugees. They are humiliated in Europe.

Children, instead of drawing sweet childhood memories, are drawing the cold of winter, lack of water and food, disease and standing in the camp’s long queues.

This will put the history of the 21st Century to shame.

In the centre of Europe, cities with the population of 7-8 thousand people have been created for refugees with cold nights and dangerous, lawless and hopeless tiring, hungry days.

Death is just a step away from refugees.

Sometimes food is brought in via charities and people with hearts of gold but unfortunately it is not enough. Sleeping in tents while shivering from cold and nightmares of homes on fire and death. Fear of radical extremists and fights and tear gas thrown by the police into the camps locations and tents.

Dear Kind people of Europe and the UK,

I don’t believe that in the heart of Europe, centre of technology and civilisation, you don’t know that such a place exists.

History will judge all of us according to our actions. This will stain the heart of history and humanity and it can never be removed.

Dear people of UK and France,

Please open the doors to us refugees and save us.

We are not terrorists. We are not soldiers. We are not politicians.

We are just ordinary people in pursuit of our peaceful life.

I only want to live. Death is following me like my shadow in this hellish Jungle of hopes.

Please open your hearts and borders to us and End the War.

Hossein

 


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni  and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our ‘How to Help’ section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

Read more

Watch Video – ‘Letters Live’ Refugee Letter

We were privileged to be invited to be part of the Letters Live  event in London last week. Each night an array of celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law, Sir Ian McKellan, Gillian Anderson, Sir Bob Geldof, John Bishop, Shappi Khorsandi, Peter Capaldi and Olivia Coleman read moving, hilarious, insightful and tragic letters from past and present.

However, for us the highlight was ‘A Letter to Europe’ written by a refugee in the camp in Calais calling on the governments and people of Europe to stop turning a blind eye to the abysmal and inhumane conditions there and to open their hearts and open their borders. The letter states We are not terrorists. We are not soldiers. We are not politicians. We are just ordinary people in pursuit of our peaceful life’ and goes on to say that this situation will put the history of the 21st Century to shame.

Hassan second Copy 01 from Letters Live on Vimeo.

The letter was read by our friend Hassan, a Syrian refugee and former English teacher who was imprisoned by the Assad regime, before making the perilous journey to Europe, overcoming near death on the way. It brought the entire audience to tears, and was followed by a standing ovation. It was truly a proud moment to watch Hassan, flanked by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jude Law take a bow at the end of the night. 

 

Hassan, flanked by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jude Law, takes a bow

Hassan, flanked by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jude Law, takes a bow

 

Text of letter written by Iranian Refugee Hossein.

Dear People of Europe,

Children, women, fathers and brothers just want to live.

Now they are fleeing from their home and countries, you call them refugees. They are humiliated in Europe.

Children, instead of drawing sweet childhood memories, are drawing the cold of winter, lack of water and food, disease and standing in the camp’s long queues.

This will put the history of the 21st Century to shame.

In the centre of Europe, cities with the population of 7-8 thousand people have been created for refugees with cold nights and dangerous, lawless and hopeless tiring, hungry days.

Death is just a step away from refugees.

 Sometimes food is brought in via charities and people with hearts of gold but unfortunately it is not enough. Sleeping in tents while shivering from cold and nightmares of homes on fire and death. Fear of radical extremists and fights and tear gas thrown by the police into the camps locations and tents.

Dear Kind people of Europe and the UK,

I don’t believe that in the heart of Europe, centre of technology and civilisation, you don’t know that such a place exists.

History will judge all of us according to our actions. This will stain the heart of history and humanity and it can never be removed.

Dear people of UK and France,

Please open the doors to us refugees and save us.

We are not terrorists. We are not soldiers. We are not politicians.

We are just ordinary people in pursuit of our peaceful life.

I only want to live. Death is following me like my shadow in this hellish Jungle of hopes.

Please open your hearts and borders to us and End the War.

Hossein

 


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the

refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to

escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing

immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni

and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our

Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank

you!

Read more

Help Refugees travels to Athens

Food, shelter and questions in Athens

This is the third in a series of reports from Heydon Prowse, one of the main team members at Help Refugees. Heydon recently travelled to Macedonia and Greece to meet organisations we are funding and to research new groups for funding.

Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st January 2016

I arrived in Thessaloniki and boarded a plane to Athens arriving at about nine that night. I went straight to a squat where a 150 Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and Palestinian families and minors are being housed. These families and young people are in limbo – many are trying to work out where to go next and where they stand legally. Quite a few are now considering applying for asylum in Greece as the rest of Europe is becoming more difficult to reach.

I met a number of young Iranian men who were part of the opposition movement in Iran and were forced to flee because of government persecution. Applying for asylum is difficult for Iranians.

The squat is run by a number of Greek and British volunteers. It is very well organised and provides a vital bit of shelter and infrastructure to vulnerable people living in a strange city trying to work out how and where to apply for asylum.

The volunteers who run the squat try to provide access to immigration lawyers, but this costs them money. They have lots of very well organised store rooms for food, clothes, toiletries and medical supplies. Refugees are allowed to pick their own clothes which is very important for self esteem – especially for the teenagers.

image02 (1)

Clothes at the Athens squat that refugees are allowed to choose from

 

image00 (1)

Social area of squat

 

Banners outside the Athens squat

Banners outside the Athens squat

The next day we cooked for the homeless refugees (mostly North African) living in Victoria Square. I bought food for the volunteers and we made a huge curry which we gave out to about 200 people. The refugees from the squat help with the cooking and food distribution.

There is a great community spirit during the cooking and sharing of the food. It is a heart-warming reminder that while many of these people have lost everything, their spirits cannot be quenched.

 

Cooking at the squat in Athens

Cooking at the squat in Athens

 

Feeding people in Victoria Square

Feeding people in Victoria Square

 

 


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the

refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to

escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing

immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni

and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our

Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank

you!

Read more

Calais Needs: Items needed as of Monday 21st March

Supplies urgently needed in Calais as refugees face prospect of losing their homes. Our warehouse shelves are bare. We need essentials like sleeping bag, blankets, warm clothing and torches so that no-one is left out in the cold. If you can donate, even one small thing via helprefugees.lesiurefayre.com we’d be hugely grateful.

Leisure Fayre deliver direct to Calais and give a 20% discount.

Thank You!

Calais urgent needs


The items at the top of the list are needed urgently.

FOOD: we are running VERY LOW on food supplies. Material food donations are much more sustainable and logistically easier to arrange, so if you have funds available and are planning a delivery to the Auberge/Help Refugees warehouse PLEASE BRING:

  • Food donations more important!!
  • 1l oil
  • 1kg rice
  • 1kg sugar
  • tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel)
  • biscuit packets
  • tinned goods (tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • tea and coffee
  • 750g salt
  • tinned fruit and veg
  • vegetable stock cubes
  • 1l UHT milk
  • onions and garlic and other fresh fruit and veg
  • bags of nuts and raisins

Please bring tins with ring pull tops and make sure everything is IN date!

  • Volunteers, especially if you can stay more than a day or two! (if you wish to volunteer, please email volunteerincalais@gmail.com )
  • Building materials – especially pallets!! (if you are bringing any or have any building skills you’d like to put to good use, please email calaisbuild@gmail.com)
  • Blankets and duvets!!
  • Sleeping bags
  • Tents ( 4 man tents or larger)
  • Waterproof warm winter coats and waterproof trousers
  • Backpacks and rucksacks
  • Tarpaulins
  • Camp mats
  • Firewood
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Wind up/ solar torches and lanterns

Clothing:

All

  • Socks and Underwear (men’s, women’s and children’s)
  • Goody bags of hats, gloves and scarves

Men

  • Waterproof walking boots high ankle or trainers size especially sizes 42 and 43
  • Small trousers (size 28 and 30)
  • S + M jumpers
  • Waterproof trousers
  • S + M tracksuit bottoms
  • S long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies

Women

  • Boots/ shoes up to size 39.  No heels!
  • Smaller cup size bras (up to 36C)
  • Warm, Waterproof coats (S + M)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Trousers (S, M, L) – jeans and tracksuit bottoms
  • Long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies (S + M)

Other:

  • Flat pack cardboard boxes (size 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48)
  • Hygiene items: toilet roll, deodorant, baby wipes, shampoo, conditioner, razors, toothpaste, moisturiser, shaving cream, tissues

Please only bring item from this list. We cannot currently accept any other items items.

HOW TO ORGANISE GOODS

Try to concentrate on one or two items as a large amount of one item is much quicker and easier to distribute than a mixed load of many items.

It is very important that goods are clean, pre-sorted and clearly labelled e.g. a box of walking boots size 44, a bag of men’s jeans size 32, or pre-packaged food parcels.

If you want to be a real star then the best box sizes are 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48

HOW TO DONATE

To deliver aid to the warehouse and/or to arrange distribution in the camp with the support of experienced volunteers, please complete this form

If you have any questions, please email calaisdonations@gmail.com


CLICK AND DONATE FOR DELIVERY STRAIGHT TO CALAIS

The wonderful people at Leisure Fayre have made it super easy to get these urgently needed items directly to Calais. Calais urgently needs sleeping bags and blankets.

Go to LesiureFayre, click on the Help Refugees logo to get to our specially selected list of most needed items and make your selection. To get 20% discount and free delivery to Calais, use the login and password provided on the checkout page.

Many thanks to Leisure Fayre for being so kind!

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Calais Camp Demolition Update

CALAIS UPDATE – NO DEMOLITION OF NORTHERN SECTION OF CAMP

On Friday 18th March, the Prefecture officially announced to the Associations working in the Calais camp that the proposed demolition of the northern camp will not go ahead.

The demolition of the Southern section of the camp was completed on Wednesday this week. The only structures remaining are Jungle Books Library and School, the Ethiopian Church, Baloo’s Youth Centre, the Hummingbird Clinic and the Information Centre where the hunger strikers are currently based.

Over the last couple of weeks many refugees have left the camp but the majority have moved into the northern section. Some services, such as the Women and Children’s Centre and Ashram Kitchen have also relocated to the North.

The Prefect has requested collaboration with the Associations on ensuring sufficient facilities for residents in the North since many of those in the southern part are no longer accessible.

We intend to conduct a new census next week to ascertain the total remaining number of residents in the camp and to map key areas, with a particular focus on the locations and needs of the most vulnerable.

We will also be building two new distribution points so that we can continue to distribute regularly and in a dignified manner.

We are particularly relieved that the hundreds of unaccompanied minors are not being evicted and sent to unknown destinations without proper assessments and safeguarding. We continue to campaign for the children who have legal rights under Dublin III to be reunited with their families in the UK.

We hope that the French Authorities abide by this decision.

Church with surrounds demolished

Church with surrounds demolished

 

Northern section of camp

Northern section of camp

 

New location of Ashram Kitchen

New location of Ashram Kitchen


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the

refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to

escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing

immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni

and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our

Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank

you!

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