Hook Norton collection for Calais refugees

Sammi Newman and Vanessa Porter of CalAid NNL-151013-123335001
Sammi Newman and Vanessa Porter of CalAid NNL-151013-123335001

Generous Banburyshire folk have responded in droves to an appeal to help refugees in Calais.

Sammi Newman, co-organiser of CalAid OX15, said the project was now expanding to help refugees in Greece and is being taken up by schoolchildren around north Oxfordshire.

“We had an amazing response to our first collection appeal and last week we took three large vans to Newbury with all sorts of much-needed relief material,” she said.

“We were amazed at the generosity of local people. We collected 236 sleeping bags, 165 blankets, 45 large tents, 104 small tents, two small marquees and more than 600 pairs of socks!

“I went down to Newbury to help the sorting. The items have been taken on to Calais from Newbury, except for the small tents which went to Greece to help the relief operation there.

“It has been a brilliant response and we want to thank everyone who has given so generously to help these unfortunate refugees,” she said.

Mrs Newman, who along with her fellow organiser Vanessa Porter lives in Hook Norton, said the new appeal is designed so men, women and children can all contribute.

“This time we are concentrating on materials to build and maintain shelters and provide first aid supplies she said.

“We need things the volunteer teams building and repairing shelters require to ensure the structures are weatherproof over the winter months.

“That includes gaffer tape, nails and screws, staple guns and staples, hammers and screwdrivers.

“We are also hoping to send over as much in the way of first aid as possible. All basic supplies will be gratefully received – first aid kits, bandages, plasters and Vaseline.”

CalAid OX15 is also asking for unused caravans which will be taken to Calais for conversion as medical units, first aid centres and even dental surgeries.

“We’ve had one dentist offering to give some time and there needs to be a dedicated place for treatment,” she said.

“The size of the caravan doesn’t matter. We have volunteers who will take these across the channel to Calais where they will be put to good use.”

Mrs Newman, pictured left with Vanessa Porter has also been addressing primary school assemblies appealing to children to be involved in the relief effort.

“We want to empower youngsters to do their bit to help too,” she said.

“We’re calling it Teddy Aid and their donated teddies will all be taken directly to the Greek islands for the children who are stranded there, mainly children from Syria.

“We’re inviting children to donate a washed teddy in a freezer bag with a note for the child at the other end.”

Items will be gratefully received at the collection point at Hook Norton Youth Hall, Hook Norton Library (next to the church) on Sunday between 11am - 4pm.

For more details and regular updates on the appeals, collection and distribution of relief aid, see CalAid OX15’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CalAidOX15.