Monday, 29 January 2018

My Calais Adventure

Phew! It has been an intense, stressful and enlightening weekend all in one.

As I have mentioned in nearly every blog post recently, this past weekend Harley and I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and travelled up to Calais to volunteer with Utopia 56, a French charity that works to help refugees in France.

The Warehouse
L'auberge des Migrants Warehouse in Calais is an amazing volunteer set up that is the work of 8 refugee charities combined, both French and English, who all collaborate to produce a high organised system getting out 8 distributions to refugees in the Calais-Dunkirk area for both lunch and dinner as well as any items needed. The bigger charities, Refugee Community Kitchen and Help Refugees UK seem to oversee what happens, getting out about 2750 meals a day to an estimated 1000 refugees with no paid member of staff so it is incredible how organised it is.

The School Bus Project - getting education out to minors
Thanks to President Macron's visit to Calais the week before last, tensions were high and refugee numbers had risen with rumours that the situation might change, but essentially Macron didn't help - just saying that a situation like the Jungle can never happen again and seemed to encourage even further police brutality - it couldn't have been worse and I can't even begin to understand this mindset so it is at least reassuring that in this bleak corner of Northern France there is a whole team of volunteers working all day every day to make sure these PEOPLE get fed and warmth best they can.

We did everything, from peeling 150kg of onions for the kitchen to sorting and packing 800 blankets to be distributed and sorting some of the incoming donations that seemed to fill the giant warehouse. Although we weren't long enough to go out on the distributions and the tensions were too high for new volunteers to head out, I would still highly recommend going to anyone considering it, or even if you have a free weekend and nothing to do. Although me and Harley had a bit of a disaster with the accommodation booked through Utopia (see the picture below) it all ended well.

Oops! Airbnb to the rescue!

Sign up to volunteer with Help Refugee UK HERE
More Information about RCK HERE

To get to Calais from the UK you can drive or take a coach for very little or from Paris there are direct trains from Gare du Nord for as little as €40 and if you are going for a short while or up to a group of 6 people you can stay at the Airbnb Harley ended up in which was directly in the centre of Calais and right bus the direct bus stop to the Warehouse. Find it HERE.

If you have any questions, please get in touch. I can't promise to be an expert but I can certainly point you in the right direction. Be involved in something much bigger than yourself.

Have a good week my loves!

Lots of Love, Kate xxx

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