Blog

Refugees are heading back to Calais and we need your help to help them

Since mid January the number of refugees in Calais has increased drastically again.

Between 500 and 1000 people, mostly unaccompanied minors, are sleeping in forests and under bridges. They rely on us for clothes, food, sleeping bags and mobile phones. The police chase them on constantly, without offering any alternatives, in violation of the right to protection and care that minors have in France.

Utopia56 distributes over 100 sleeping bags every night, which they receive from us. Meanwhile we are still providing clothing, toiletries and bedding to the over 1500 refugees in the official camp in Dunkirk. Our friends at Refugee Community Kitchen have been providing 180 bento boxes of hot food in Calais every night as well as 900-1000 meals a day in Dunkirk. 

We need your help to continue. Please send us sleeping bags, thermal gloves, small and medium waterproof men’s jackets and men’s joggers (email calaisdonations@gmail.com), or order them for us through Leisure Fayre. https://www.leisurefayre.com/section.…/86100/1/help_refugees

And please donate here http://bit.ly/HelpRefugeesDonate to enable us to keep the warehouse open and run the vans and infrastructure that bring these goods to the people who need them.

Finally, we need volunteers as well to help in the sorting of all these items, as well as the kitchen and the distribution teams. Please email calaisvolunteers@helprefugees.org for more information and to sign up.

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An update on the reality for refugees in Calais

On the afternoon of 22nd February 2017 some of our volunteers in Calais attended the funeral of a young man from the Oromia region in Ethiopia known as John Sina, who was just 20 years old when he died. He was sadly struck down on the Calais motorway on January 21st. He left the French state protection in December, having lost faith in the Home Office allowing him safe passage to the UK.

Travelling back from the funeral, volunteers witnessed 7 minors being arrested outside the Secours Catholique – Caritas France warehouse, where the police have been targeting refugees hoping to shower.

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The day highlighted some of the shameful treatment of vulnerable children in Europe. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many horrors that we do not witness.

Write to your MPs, you can find your local MP here – http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/. Let them know that you care about the fate of unaccompanied kids in Europe, that you would like the UK to protect children in need of sanctuary. Ask them to raise this issue in parliament.

Thank you

 

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LETTERS TO AMBER RUDD WITH POSTBUG

We don’t care if you’ve sent 1 or 100 already, Postbug are offering to do the legwork for us, so let’s flood the Home Secretary’s desk with demands to extend the Dubs programme.

1) Go to https://www.postbug.com/#/pb/309

2) Click SEND A LETTER. You’ll need to register with PostBug. You can use the content we’ve provided or add in your own. You will be prompted to add your address, please do so to get a reply. The first 100 letters are free. After that they cost £1 each for postage and handling.

SUGGESTED LETTER TEXT

To The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP,

I write to you with the same message that a group of celebrities sent to the Prime Minister recently.

This Government’s decision to close the “Dubs” programme for vulnerable refugee children is truly shameful.

The idea that as a country we will slam the door shut after just 350 children have reached safety is completely unacceptable.

Lord Dubs was himself a child saved by Sir Nicholas Winton who rescued 669 children virtually single-handed.

It is embarrassing that the Prime Minister’s government will not even manage to match the example set by Sir Nicholas (her former constituent) all those years ago, let alone the efforts of the Kindertransport movement, of which he was a part, and which saved 10,000 children from the Nazis.

It is clear from the work of charities like Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project and Help Refugees that where these safe and legal routes are blocked, children are left with a terrible choice between train tracks on the one hand and people traffickers on the other.

The Government’s threadbare consultation with councils is now nine months out of date.

The country we know and love is bigger than this. Communities and councils across the country stand ready to do more. The government must agree to extend the programme and re-consult with councils immediately.

Yours sincerely,
[Name]

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Help Refugees: Privacy Policy

It is our policy to respect your privacy regarding any information we may collect while operating our website. This Policy explains when and why we collect personal information about people who visit our website, how we use it, the conditions under which we may disclose it to others and how we keep it secure.

The processing of your personal data is carried out by or on behalf of Help Refugees or Help Refugees Ltd. This policy may change from time to time, so please visit this page periodically to make sure you’re up to date.

Who are we?

Help Refugees is an organisation that provides aid and upholds dignity for refugees and displaced people across Europe and the Middle East. We operate as a restricted fund under the auspices of Prism the Gift Fund – charity number 1099682. Our advocacy work is carried out under our limited company 09842577.

How can you contact us?

If you have any questions regarding our Privacy Policy or our processing of your personal information, please get in touch at contact@helprefugees.org, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

How do we collect your information?

We may collect information about you whenever you directly interact with us. For example, when you: make a donation; when you register to volunteer; when you create a fundraiser; when you use our website; and when you register for our newsletter.

We may also collect information about you when you use a third-party website with whom we work (for example, making a donation to us through BT MyDonate).

What type of information is collected from you?

The information we collect from you directly or indirectly may include:

– Your name
– Your address
– Your email address
– Your phone number
– Your contact preferences
– Your employer details for processing a payroll gift
– Your taxpayer status for claiming Gift Aid
– Your date of birth
– Your gender (where appropriate, for example: volunteering)

We do not use cookies to collect this type of information. All online financial transactions will be encrypted using TLS (Transport Layer Security).

How is your information used?

We may use your information to:

– To process a donation that you have made
– To provide you with information about our work or our activities
– To carry out our obligations arising from any contracts entered into by you and us;
– To process volunteer registration
– To seek your views or comments on the services we provide;
– To notify you of changes to our services
– To process a grant or job application
– For administrative purposes (for example, we may contact you regarding an event for which you have registered)
– To analyse and improve the content and operation of our website
– Where we are required by law, to disclose or otherwise use your information.

In particular, we may contact you for marketing purposes by email if you have agreed to be contacted in this manner. We provide information about how you can change your marketing preferences in our communications.

How do we store your information?

We take appropriate physical, electronic and managerial measures to ensure that we keep your information secure, accurate and up to date, and that we only keep it as long as is reasonable and necessary.

Although we use appropriate security measures once we have received your personal information, the transmission of information over the internet is never completely secure. We do our best to protect personal information, but we cannot guarantee the security of information transmitted to our website, so any transmission is at the user’s own risk. However, any payment card details (such as credit or debit cards) we receive on our website are passed securely to our payment processing provider according to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards.

Your choices

You have a choice about whether or not you receive communications from us. If you do not want to receive direct marketing communications from us about the vital work we do for refugees and displaced people, then you can select your choices by ticking the relevant boxes situated on the form on which we collect your information.

We will not contact you for marketing purposes by email, phone or text message unless you have given your prior consent. We will not contact you for marketing purposes by post if you have indicated that you do not wish to be contacted. You can change your marketing preferences at any time by contacting us by email: contact@helprefugees.org.

Who has access to your information?

We will not sell or rent your information to third parties.

We will not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.

Help Refugees may provide your information to our service providers. Subject to your communication preferences and our internal policies and procedures, this would include providing your information to third parties that work with us to deliver on our charitable purposes, and other entities that act as fundraisers for Help Refugees, sell Help Refugees products or provide Help Refugees with marketing information and services.

Help Refugees may also share your information with associations we work in partnership with (for example, when you are volunteering and you wish to be placed on a certain project). We will not do this without your consent. In some cases, they will be acting as a data controller of your information and therefore we advise you to read their Privacy Policy. These third party product providers may share your information with us which we will use in accordance with this Privacy Policy.

We enter into contracts with all of these service providers that require them to comply with data protection laws and to ensure that they have appropriate controls in place to protect the security of your information.

Links to other websites and organisations

Our website may contain links to other websites run by other organisations. This privacy policy applies only to our website‚ so we encourage you to read the privacy statements on the other websites you visit. We cannot be responsible for the privacy policies and practices of other sites even if you access them using links from our website.

16 or Under

We are concerned to protect the privacy of children aged 16 or under. If you are aged 16 or under‚ please get your parent/guardian’s permission beforehand whenever you provide us with personal information.

Why are we allowed to process your personal information?

Our Privacy and Cookie Policies take into account several laws, including:

– the Data Protection Act 1998
– the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
– General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679, which will come into force in the UK in May 2018 and replace the Data Protection Act 1998.

Generally, our processing of your personal information as described in this policy is allowed by these laws because we have a legitimate need to carry out the processing for the purposes described above. Some processing may also be necessary so that we can perform a contract with you or because it is required by law. We only use your information to send you marketing communications by email or text with your consent, and you can always opt out of receipt of marketing communications by post or telephone as explained below.

Your credit or debit card information

If you use your credit or debit card to donate to us, buy something or make a booking online, we pass your card details securely to our payment processing partner as part of the payment process. We do this in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PDF download), and don’t store the details on our website or databases.

Emails

Emails are not always secure, and they may be intercepted or changed after they have been sent. Help Refugees does not accept liability if this happens. The contents of emails reflect their author’s views and not necessarily those of Help Refugees.

Please do not send Help Refugees any financial data through email.

Review of this Policy

We regularly review and update our Privacy Policy. This Policy was last updated in February 2018.

Please also read our Data Protection Policy.

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Northern France- Latest Needs

PRIORITY ITEMS: THINGS WE ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF

Unlocked mobile phones with chargers

EU to UK power adapters (for use in EU)

S+M Men’s Joggers/Trousers (28” and 30”)

Torches and Lamps
Thick Blankets

Sleeping Bags
Roll Mats
S+M Men’s Waterproof Jackets
S Men’s Hoodies/Warm Jumpers
Trainers/Walking Boots size 40-44
S+M Men’s Underwear
Men’s warm winter accessories – hats, gloves, scarves

Conditioner
Deodorant

Toilet Paper
Hand warmers

Size 5 and 6 nappies only

Bivvy bags

EVERYTHING ELSE

Men

  • S, M  waterproof and non-waterproof jackets

  • Trainers especially sizes 41 to 43, and ideally black

  • S, M long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies (The warmer the better)

  • S, M  tracksuit bottoms/Jeans

  • Waterproof trousers

  • Socks (thick and thin)

  • S, M new underwear (not Y-fronts)

  • Gloves

  • Hats

  • Scarves

 

Youth (boys):

  • Tracksuit bottoms – for ages 12-17

  • Jeans – for ages 12-17

  • Underwear – for ages 12-17 or men’s size small

  • Hoodies – sizes small and medium

  • Trainers (ideally black) – 40, 41, 42, 43.

 

Childrens Items

We are currently oversupplied with children’s clothes and toys, there are other charities,  many closer to home who would really benefit from the donations of these items.

Hygiene

  • Toilet paper

  • Men’s razors

  • Shaving foam

  • Deodorant (men’s)

  • Shampoo

  • Conditioner

 

Food:

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, the most needed items (most urgent at top)

oats
golden syrup

smoked paprika
cucumber
fresh chilli
sea salt

olive oil
honey
cayenne pepper

leeks
celery
pasta
apples
butter
bicarbonate of soda
ketchup
mayonnaise
white vinegar
tahini
black pepper
jam/marmalade
bin bags
plastic gloves
disinfectant spray
potatos
tins of white beans

cabbage

 

The free shops need:

tomato puree

coffee

oranges

tomato
peppers
onions
garlic
lemon juice

dried fruit

aubergines
courgettes

hot chocolate

washing up liquid

kidney beans (tinned)

tinned fruit

chickpeas (tinned)

chopped tomatoes

white sugar

basmati rice

nuts

Please bring ring pull tops and make sure everything is in date!

 

Warehouse and Office Needs:

  • Large rubble sacks and 80L

  • 130L, 110L, 80L strong bags

  • Orange tape

  • Brown parcel tape

  • Serang wrap

  • Permanent markers

  • Thick rubber bands

  • A4 lever arch folders

  • Polythene pockets (for lever arch files)

  • A4 printer paper

  • White board markers

 

Miscellaneous:

  • Thick blankets

  • Sleeping bags

  • Roll mats

  • Backpacks

  • 3 sims for phones (£1 each, have to be purchased in the UK)

  • Lyca sims

  • Metal kettles

  • Plastic/metal cups, mugs, plates and cutlery

  • Lights and lanterns

  • Unlocked smart phones/power banks

 

SORTING GUIDELINES:

 

Please note that your donations MUST be sorted – if any items are damaged, soiled or inappropriate for the camp, they will create an enormous amount of waste, which delays vital aid reaching the refugees. We cannot accept deliveries that are unsorted, as our volunteers can be snowed under the mountain of unsorted donations. Please try to only bring 3 or 4 types of items in your delivery. However, we understand that this is not always possible, and we still appreciate your help. To efficiently sort your donations, please separate them into type eg blankets separate from clothing. Clothing and shoes will need to be separated (and then packed and accordingly labelled) by gender, size and type. For instance men’s M jumpers separate from the S. Women’s size 39 boots separate from women’s size 40 trainers, waterproof coats, separate from non-waterproof coats.

This saves the incredibly hard-working warehouse volunteers so much time and allows us to get the donations to the refugees considerably more quickly and more efficiently. We are currently sufficiently stocked up for quite some time with women and children’s items, except for the items mentioned in the priority list. If you need more guidelines on how to sort, please email me back and I will be happy to help.

 

You can also donate to our Calais and Dunkerque page here

If you are interested in supporting our non food item distribution teams with items such as tents, clothing, sleeping bags, kitchenware etc, please donate here

Refugee Community Kitchen provides a warm lunch to the residents of the Dunkirk camp every day. They need money to buy the ingredients. Please give here 

The Calais Woodyard saw and chop firewood and deliver it to the residents of the Dunkirk camp, to cook and to heat their living spaces. They need money to buy sawblades and for fuel. To donate to their incredible work, please donate generously here.

If you wish to send Emergency Supplies by post, please consider our wishlist at http://www.leisurefayre.com, where we have secured a generous 20% discount and fast postage with the distributor, who sends them directly to us as soon as possible!

For more guidelines, please check this Donations page on Calaidipedia: http://www.calaidipedia.co.uk/donations

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Find out how to #CHOOSELOVE with us this Valentine’s Day

#ChooseLove with us this Valentine’s Day

The effects of the planned US cuts to humanitarian aid will be felt all over the globe. The dependence on the grassroots movement to fill in the gaps will be larger than ever.

We know we will be needed more than ever over the coming months to continue to provide food, medical care, shelter, warm clothing, education, and so much more.

We Need Your Love.


Here’s What You Can Do:

Choose Love with your voice by changing your overlay and sharing how you #chooselove this Valentine’s Day on social media. We will share your stories!!

Click here to add the overlay now!

You can also watch and share our I Love… film

Choose Love with you gifts, by donating now. Even the smallest gifts can save a life.

Click here to give from Europe

Click here to give from the United States

For all the details, visit http://chooseloveforvalentines.org

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#ChooseLove With Us This Valentine’s Day

#ChooseLove with us this Valentine’s Day

The effects of the planned US cuts to humanitarian aid will be felt all over the globe. The dependence on the grassroots movement to fill in the gaps will be larger than ever.

We know we will be needed more than ever over the coming months to continue to provide food, medical care, shelter, warm clothing, education, and so much more.

We Need Your Love.


Here’s What You Can Do:

Choose Love with your voice by changing your overlay and sharing how you #chooselove this Valentine’s Day on social media. We will share your stories!!

Click here to add the overlay now!

You can also share our Choose Love film

 

Choose Love with you gifts, by donating now. Even the smallest gifts can save a life.

 

Click here to give from Europe

Click here to give from the United States

For all the details, visit http://chooseloveforvalentines.org

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UK GOVERNMENT CAPS DUBS AT 350 CHILDREN

Yesterday – over eight months after the Dubs Amendment was brought into force – the Government has at last published what it says is the overall number of unaccompanied refugee children to be transferred from other European countries to the UK under the Dubs Amendment.

Help Refugees are already challenging the Government’s failure to properly implement the Dubs Amendment in a judicial review.

Although the number of children to be transferred under the Dubs Amendment as initially proposed by Lord Dubs was 3000, the Government is now offering only 350 places. They have deducted the 200 places already taken by unaccompanied children transferred from Calais. Only 150 places remain for all children from the rest of Europe, including Greece where freezing conditions in refugee camps led to three deaths in one week this January.

The Help Refugees legal challenge – the next Court hearing is this Friday 10 February – asserts that the Government has failed to lawfully calculate the number of available places for unaccompanied children because it failed to properly consult with local authorities as the statute required it to do.

Rosa Curling, the human rights Solicitor at Leigh Day who represents Help Refugees said ‘The consultation process by which the Home Office has calculated this low number was fundamentally flawed. There was no real consultation with many local authorities. Our legal challenge holds the Government to account on this critical issue of how many unaccompanied refugee children will be relocated to the UK and supported here.’

Our legal challenge already yielded a major victory in December, when the Government had to back down over its interpretation of the Dubs Amendment. The Government had previously taken the position that it could meet its duties under the Dubs Amendment by complying with separate duties owed to children under EU law. The Court granted a declaration in Help Refugees’ favour showing that the Dubs Amendment required the Government to admit children under the Dubs amendment in addition to those the Government was already required to accept under EU law.

Now more than ever, we need to make our voices heard. Please write to your MP’s and call for an immediate re-consultation on this shamefully low number #dubsnow

Statement from Lord Alf Dubs

“Today Theresa May put Britain on the wrong side of history.

To our country’s shame, she has decided to shut down the Dubs Scheme, which promised child refugees a safe future in the UK.

We fought tooth and nail to win this last year. I won’t let it slip away.

Join me in saying YES – I want Britain to rescue the most vulnerable child refugees.

The Dubs Amendment was a promise to us – to honour our proud British tradition of welcoming those most in need.

I saw that compassion and courage in Sir Nicholas Winton, who rescued me as a child from the Nazi regime, along with 669 Jewish children.

Acts of heroism like this define our country. They characterise the values we hold dear.

Now we are faced with another such turning point in our nation’s history.

Will we choose to follow Trump, or to honour our tradition of generosity, compassion and courage?

Begin by signing a petition to keep the Dubs Scheme alive. Forward it widely.

We won’t stop there. We’ll need to fight harder than ever, organising our communities in the days to come. In the streets, in the offices of MPs, by joining local actions.

We’ve won before. We will win again.”

CLICK HERE Stand with us, sign this petition and write to your MP and tell them not to abandon the Dubs Scheme for refugee children 

Photo by Alecsandra Dragoi for The Guardian

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BIG BRANDS COME FORWARD TO SUPPORT REFUGEES

Over the past few weeks we have seen more and more brands coming forwards to #CHOOSELOVE and show their support for refugees in tangible ways, from emergency aid, to employment opportunities.

Today, Ikea announced that they will provide 200 Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan with employment by 2019, creating rugs and textiles. This follows their top design award for their flat-pack refugee shelter which helped thousands.

Other companies and brands have similarly shown support over the past few weeks (in the wake of the news of Trump’s ‘refugee ban’)

* Taxi service Lyft donated a million dollars to ACLU (who were leading the legal challenges against the executive orders)
* Air BnB offered vouchers for free accommodation for refugees affected by the ban
* Starbucks announced they would create 10,000 new jobs for refugees

We also recently announced our exciting new partnership with MOVE Guides who are donating 1% of all revenue this year to our work with refugees.

Last month Patagonia donated warm clothing to our teams in Greece to distribute during the freezing weather

Supporting refugees in a variety of ways demonstrates the ethical values of a company, shows the public and their employers that they aren’t afraid to do the right thing in the face of suffering and injustice, and of course, provides a little extra publicity and an image boost for the brand itself!

If your company would like to talk to us about how you can support refugees this year please email us on contact@helprefugees.org

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How One Greek Hairdresser Helped Over 20,000 Refugees

Time and time again we are astounded by the generosity of strangers, and reminded that for every person we causing chaos and destruction in the world, there is another spreading love and compassion towards their fellow human being.

Hearing about the commitment of Vasilis Tsartsanis, a Greek hairdresser and film maker, to help others is truly heartwarming.

For nearly three year Vasilis and his friends helped refugees, largely from Syria, who arrived in Idomeni (a village on the border of Greece and Macedonia). As hundreds of thousands of people made their way through the village they started by bringing food and water to those desperately in need. Later they would use their car to act as an ambulance serving, bringing pregnant women and sick people to friends houses and finding local doctors to treat them. Over the years he estimates he has directly helped over 20,000 people.

As the numbers escalated to new levels Vasilis knew they needed much more help from the international community and went across Europe speaking to the media.

Today he still laments the way refugees are treated in many places across Europe

““It’s like we make them to feel worse than animals,” Vasilis told The Independent “We would put dogs somewhere better.”

Over the past 18 months since Help Refugees began we have come across so many people just like Vasilis, refugees, local people and volunteers who truly are the unsung heroes of the refugee crisis. Help Refugees raison d’etre has been to find people like Vasilis, doing incredible work (whether as part of a grassroots group or as independents) and support their work. We thank, and pay tribute to each and every individual who has looked into their hearts and made the decision to #ChooseLove and help their fellow man, woman and child.

 

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