For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)
It is time to sort through our wardrobes and cupboards again ready for another collection organised by Farnham Help for Refugees in UK and Overseas and taking place on October 5 from 3-7pm in St George’s Church.
The clothes, toiletries, baby items and medical and other equipment which are collected in (see above for what is needed) will then be distributed to other groups who have direct links to refugees either in this country or overseas. For instance, a car full of supplies, particularly toiletries and feminine hygiene products, always goes down to Portsmouth where the Red Cross distribute it among refugees already in the country. Other supplies are taken to groups such as High Wycombe Helping Others which sends container loads out to countries like Lebanon and Greece which are currently home to thousands of refugees, particularly from Syria.
Members of the group also take clothing and supplies overseas themselves which gives them a clear idea of what is specifically needed. One of the members of the group was on the Greek island of Lesbos last month where thousands of people continue to arrive seeking refuge from war and persecution in their home countries.
Another member is Penny Hardcastle from St George’s who will be driving to Calais with a car full of contributions in October which she will pass to the organisation Help Refugees. She will also stay to help with sorting and food and clothing distribution.
This will be Penny’s second trip to Calais – the first last December opened her eyes to the plight of desperate people there. “Calais is very depressing,” said Penny. “Most of the people there have fled from life or death situations and they way they are treated by the police is terrible. It was bitterly cold when I was there and there were people out there with no shelter. They don’t have tents because of the police brutality – they are forced to move on so don’t have time to put up tents. They sleep in the woods. It snowed when I was there and then there was torrential rain and that was even worse.
“But the people were so positive and friendly and there was a lot of camaraderie among them. Most of them were men – the families don’t tend to be there – and many had friends and family in England. I met one man who had a business in Birmingham and had been deported and just wanted to get back there. I met intelligent, skilled people who want to contribute.”
Among the items that Penny will be taking to Calais are men’s winter clothes in small-to-medium sizes and shoes in sizes seven to nine (40-43). “The men tend to be of slim build – partly how they are and also they have often walked for many months – and they don’t have the large European feet. Clothes to fit teenage boys would be good. The men want to look nice, to maintain their dignity.
“It may feel like a small thing, turning up at the collection with a pair of shoes say, but it really does help. And these are all dignified humans. If I were in that position I would like to think that there were people who would want to help me.”
To find out more or to offer help with sorting and packing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Penny in Calais last year.