Blog Archive

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Refugees, Migration and Climate Change - support us to support our sisters and brothers in Calais

New Year Greetings from BARAC UK 

We are starting the year by  once again returning to Calais  taking food and essential items to our sisters and brothers  who are having to contend with harsh winter conditions, fires and threats of removal from the shanty town they find themselves in after long and hard journeys escaping dangers to get there. 

We appreciate your support with previous donations of items and money. 

We are also grateful to the Public and Commercial Services Union who are sponsoring our transport and travel to Calais so that all the funds we raise will go directly towards food and essential items and to all those who have worked with us to raise money and donate items and products.

We know that distributing aid is not the solution for those stuck in Calais and camps around Europe so we must combine this with political campaigning regarding the root of war, persecution, poverty and climate change. 

Last month our Co-Chair Zita Holbourne spoke at the Paris Climate Change conference about the links between climate change, migration and refugees. 

In November Zita joined a delegation from the London Interfaith Network, visiting Calais in solidarity and met Maria Ishtiaq.  Since this visit to Calais, Maria has been working to raise funds and purchase essential items, below is a message from Maria about the important of coming together and supporting our sisters and brothers:

In November of last year, I was fortunate enough to visit the refugee camp in Calais; I journeyed with the sole expectation of seeing victims, broken people who had given up all hope. Instead I found what I believe to be the most truly resilient members of our society. The fact that they had developed a whole community from the literal dump that they were thrown into is beyond comprehension... they had built shops, houses, churches and mosques from nothing but a few logs of wood and plastic tarp!

Having said that, the sanitary conditions there were despicable and with winter coming, the refugees were contemplating whether they would be able to survive the cold. 

Before even having returned to the UK, I had the intention to go back soon with supplies... I was lucky enough to have met some wonderful individuals whom I wholeheartedly believed to be deserving of the simple asylum they sought; remember these are not immigrants, they actually have no-one and nothing else to go back to. There are even children with no families with them, 'unaccompanied minors' as they are referred to!

Unfortunately the day after I returned from the camp, terror struck at the heart of France and my mother was no longer comfortable with me returning to the camp so soon after. However, I did not let this dampen my determination to help the people of 'The Jungle' (as the media refers to the refugee camp), instead I set my mind to raising money in order to purchase winter wear and other essential items to send via Zita and the other wonderful people at BARAC UK. I was able to raise almost £350 through friends and family and this was used along with funds of my own to buy thermal hats, scarves, gloves, socks and sleeping bags as well as various toiletries to be distributed amongst the refugees.

This is an ongoing issue in which I would urge everyone to get involved; this is not a Muslim issue, or a Christian issue, or a Jewish issue... this is an issue of basic humanity. Please help your brothers and sisters. 

Maria Ishtiaq

Our thanks go to Maria, Lush and Newham Book Shop for their support and donations but we need more support.  

There are two key ways in which you can support:

1. donate to our GoFundMe:

2. drop essential items to our distribution point at PCS HQ,

Please email is: for details and to let us know what items you have first. 

Items needed include: blankets, warm waterproof coats, thermal socks, thermal hats, gloves, scarves, thermal vests and undewear, emergency blankets, 2 to 3 people tents, sleeping bags, tarpaulin, tent pegs, fire extinguishers, hoodies, fleeces, rain coats, sanitary towels, large cooking pots and utensils, large plastic storage containers with lids, toiletries including African hair and skin products such as coconut oil and cocoa  / shea butter, cornmeal flour, dried fish, wheat flour, seasonings, water, oil, tinned beans and pulses, rice, tea, coffee, sugar, long life milk. 

We will also take some fresh fruit and vegetables as people don't get enough access to fresh produce but these will need to be purchased the day before.

We will need to receive any items and donations by 28th of January at the latest.  

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Best Wishes 

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