A group of volunteers from the newly-set-up Calais Aid Network Leeds set off today across the border to distribute aid donated by the city’s residents.
Four volunteers filled a van with items including sleeping bags, shoes, blankets, socks and warm clothes before driving over to Calais to help out at the refugee camps.
The three-day trip will also be a fact-finding mission to establish what exactly is needed before they return again to France on Monday. Ifty Patel, founder of The People’s Street Kitchen - a not-for-profit, volunteer-led organisation - set up The Calais Aid Network Leeds this week and the city centre aid drop-off point at Mill Hill Unitarian Church on City Square.
He said the plan to publish the priority aid list on their website www.yorkshireaid.org as soon as possible.
“We’ll report back on there and we’re hoping people will respond straight away over the weekend, so we can take those items when we leave again first thing on Monday morning. We’ve been overwhelmed with the generosity shown - that people are coming together and sharing their really good-quality items. We’re basically hoping this outpouring of compassion is going to also affect people locally, so we’re encouraging people to do things like helping the homeless or just your neighbour.” Ifty also urged anyone collecting aid not to travel to Calais independently but to get in touch through the website so they can be booked in through official aid organisations.
Today also sees taxi firm Uber collect items for donation across Leeds to be delivered to Save the Children shops and sold to fund the charity’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal. It is part of ‘UberGiving’ - a European-wide initiative by the global taxi chain, across more than 20 countries.
To organise a collection, open the Uber app on a phone and swipe the slider to ‘Giving’. Request a free car to pick up donations which will then be delievered to the charity. ‘Ubergiving’ runs until 8pm tonight.