Lauren and Katie were due to head to Calais to volunteer for a charity called Care4Calais on Monday for three weeks. Unfortunately, due to COVID and our transport being cancelled we can no longer physically go. As a result, we are committing our efforts to raising awareness and funds here in order to support them there.
Care4calais are a charity who are currently providing fundamental support to displaced refugees in Northern France. They are working day and night to provide the basic essentials such as sleeping bags, clothes, food and tarpaulins.
Our fundraiser will begin on the day we were due to arrive in France and will continue until we were due to leave. It will take place in the form of three sections, each lasting one week long.
Week 1: 7th - 14th September – NIGHT SWIM- we will spend one minute in the loch in the dark for each £ an individual awaiting asylum in the UK is supposed to live on per week. (37 minutes)
Week 2 : 14th- 21st September MEAN BEAN- 100g oats and water for breakfast, 50g rice and 100g kidney beans for lunch and dinner. To represent the rations that over 79 million people are likely to have lived on.
Week 3 – 21st to 28th September- CYCLE 30km a day every day, finishing with a 96 km cycle from Edinburgh to Killearn (Katie’s home). With the aim to represent the endurance and determination displaced people require in the search for a new place to call home.
Our media portray refugees as a threat to the UK. Making us believe that this ‘crisis’ is ours and stealing away from the real crisis that these individuals are suffering. Refugees make up less than 1% of the UK population. In England last year, 13.3% of NHS staff reported a non-British nationality and with over 4,000 unfilled nursing posts in Scotland, (RCN, 2020) they argument of migrants ‘stealing our jobs’ is simply invalid.
There is no legal obligation for refugees to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. The reality is many of them do claim asylum in other counties before they reach the UK. Many of those currently in Calais wishing to come to the UK have motivation such as already being able to speak English and having family here. The claim that these people are 'economic migrants’ is simply ignorant. In the UK asylum seekers receive £37.75 a week financial aid (1), were as in France they get £42.84 a week (2) and in Germany they get a lot higher at £65.63 (3).
It is equally important to bear in mind that this support comes only after embarking on the rigorous asylum process which includes providing official documents, being photographed and interviewed. These interviews are necessary but more often than not will lead to re-traumatisation as they are forced to retell the stories of horrors already lived. More than half of the asylum cases in the UK take over 6 months to process. Just over one third of these are accepted. The rest face the detention and/or reapplication process. (UNHCR, 2020)
Regardless of your political opinion, we are asking you to consider these people as humans just like yourselves, and to break through the ‘othering’ that is ingrained in all of us by our media.
Most of us have spent lock-down in a warm home with food on the table. Compared to those in France who having their basic essentials destroyed and confiscated by the police, leaving them cold, hungry and without shelter.
We understand that we are in a privileged position to be able to have the time and resources to undergo these fundraising activities and we really hope you can support us!
Priority Needs List:
Men’s and boys’ coats (especially small and medium sizes)
Sleeping bags and blankets Jogging bottoms or jeans, size 26-34 waist (joggers with cuff bottoms if possible)
New boxer shorts (esp small and medium, tight fit if possible)
Waterproof walking boots, sizes 38-45 (but most needed sizes 40-43)
Unlocked mobile phones with chargers (note – unlocking essential please) Powerbanks