Banburyshire is being asked to dig out tents, tarpaulins and other essential camping equipment to provide shelter for migrants in Calais.
Hook Norton mum Vanessa Porter is co-ordinating the appeal on behalf of CalAid which is providing humanitarian assistance to 3,000 men, women and children at ‘The Jungle’ – a temporary camp in the French port.
“The project came about when I saw a video about a little Syrian boy who is living in the Jungle,” she said.
“He had been run over by the Syrian army and his mother had brought him across Europe to try to get him help to fix his injured leg.
“I have a little boy of a similar age and the thought of my child living in a tent through a cold northern European winter was really upsetting. I then came across Calaid, a group of volunteers collecting urgently needed donations for those living in the Calais migrant camps.”
Mrs Porter, of Rectory Road, got together with a group from Hook Norton, including teachers, doctors and carers, to collect camping equipment – tents, sleeping bags and tarpaulins as well as warm socks, candles and torches.
“We are not collecting clothing in September as we don’t have the resources to sort the clothing but we will organise another collection of clothing and food in October.
“We have already been overwhelmed with support from the village and beyond, particularly as the Facebook page has only been live since Sunday. I was was expecting nothing but have had offers from people I would never have believed would be supportive,” said Mrs Porter.
“I’m keen to stress the non-political approach of the campaign. We are merely interested in helping people who are not properly equipped to be camping in extremely basic conditions in northern Europe over the winter. We do not have an agenda or a collective opinion about immigration policy.
“We will take the equipment down to London on September 20 and from there all donations will be taken to Le Vestiaire Des Migrants in Calais.
“Anyone who’s been camping knows it is dire being wet in a tent and imagine what it’s like not being able to get dry?
“Estimates vary about how many people are there but it’s thought to be around 3,000 – some women and children but mostly men, as a lot of the women stop at the ‘first place of safety’ such as Italy. The majority of migrants come from war zones like Syria, Eritrea and South Sudan.
“We need help with donations, publicity or co-ordinating collections, help with vans or storage space for donations.”
The group’s Facebook page is CalAid OX15. Anyone able to help should email firstname.lastname@example.org