Calais camp visit to help refugees

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Refugees in Calais protesting Pic © Dr Joe Greener

Refugees in Calais protesting Pic © Dr Joe Greener

A group of students from Liverpool Hope, John Moores and Chester universities visited refugee camps in Calais last weekend, bringing clothes, food and toiletries with them.

Between 3,000 and 5,000 refugees have fled war, poverty and persecution in Syria and are now in camps in Calais.

As the group prepared for their trip to Calais they had two main aims: to collect donations for those in the camps and money to bring the supplies to Calais.

Dr Joe Greener, a lecturer from Hope University, told JMU Journalism: “We asked people to donate a range of items but we were particularly interested in getting the items that were most needed, including camping equipment, tents, warm men’s clothes and toiletries.

“We were involved in a range of fundraising activities. We set up a Just Giving page. We also publicised the campaign on local radio and we even managed to get some TV coverage from Granada News.”

The group were aiming to raise about £3,300, but ended-up raising a total of £4,000. Three different were presented to three different organisations in Calais.

Greener described the harrowing conditions in the camps, saying they were “a scar on the face of a supposedly civilised Europe”.

“The camp is spread out over a large area of coastal scrub land. It is estimated that there are about 6,000 refugees living in the camp at the minute. The paths around the camp are muddy, toilet and washing facilities are very basic and living conditions are generally very poor.”

The students and lecturers worked with the SWAN group, an international campaign organisation which is fighting for a better, more humane form of social work.

Greener added: “Faced with years of destitution and poverty, with little capacity to find steady and secure employment, many of us would also choose to try and find a better life abroad.

“The staggering journeys that these people have been on in their search for a sanctuary is a reflection of the difficult circumstances that they are fleeing.”

About Lucy Darbyshire, JMU Journalism