Keynsham residents rally to help efforts in refugee crisis
Published on: 02 Oct 2015
More than four vans filled with clothes, blankets and food have left Keynsham, bound for Calais where several thousand people are living in a migrant camp outside the French city.
The items were all donated by local people who dropped off the goods at St Dunstan’s Catholic Church, in Bristol Road, which has been acting as a collection point for the Calais Refugee Solidarity Bristol group over the past few weeks.
The church’s parishioners have also raised more than £2,800 to go towards purchasing a UNHCR approved tent, which has insulation and a stove, and for three charities working on the ground in Calais to provide shelter, food and medical care – Doctors of the World, L’Auberge des Migrants and Association Salam.
Parishioner Clarice Corfield, one of the volunteers co-ordinating the collections at St Dunstan’s, said: “We saw on the news the situation in Calais and that people were suffering and not allowed to move.
"Out of compassion we thought we should be able to do something for them.
“We heard about the group set up in Bristol and went to their meetings and Father Tibor volunteered for us to be a collection point.
“The response has been absolutely amazing – we had a whole room full of clothes, blankets and food. People have been very generous, you feel they wanted to help and there is no prejudice.”
With clothing, tents and more flooding in across Bristol, the collection points were temporarily closed at the end of September but people who wish to help are urged to keep an eye out for further appeals or donate money to the charities working in Calais.
To highlight the thousands of lives being lost as refugees cross the Mediterranean to Europe, 2,500 paper cutouts of people were hung from threads inside St John’s Church last month as a visual reminder of the crisis, before holding a vigil on September 27.
Meanwhile, Keynsham Town Council has pledged to act as an information point for residents on local efforts to help refugees across Europe and has asked any organisers to get in touch on 0117 986 8683.
Members also agreed to inform Bath and North East Somerset Council that the town council would support its efforts to help in the crisis.
B&NES Council says it has already been able to offer assistance to some refugees and has contacted national community action group Citizens UK to discuss the issue while it explores with the Government the level of help the region can provide.
To find out more about Calais Refugee Solidarity Bristol, visit the group’s page on Facebook.