Linda Nunn reports on the magnificent response to the Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign in Bristol
The Calais Refugee Solidarity Campaign in Bristol was set up just 6 weeks ago by 7 people. We now have 5500 members on Facebook, and have five sub groups covering Campaigning, Media , Fundraising, Volunteers and Collection of stuff for the people in the Calais camps.
We have raised £10,000 from a crowdfunder and gigs and street collections and quiz nights! Money has been sent off to Doctors of the World and bought 3 (for now ) UNCHR fully equipped tents to ease the plight of just some of the people there. We hope to send money next week to help with projects around sanitation and drainage.
We have collected so much stuff from the public that we have a warehouse full (and looking at a second) of goods to transport via convoy to Calais by lorry! The warehouse is free, the lorry is free, 5000 flyers printed for free, hundreds of volunteers to help sort and pack. Everyone has been amazing in this campaign and I am so proud of the response.
We have weekly meetings and they get 30+ people, mostly new to the campaign: people want to do something for refugees and migrants and are shocked at the current situation. We have an incredible coordinating group of people who bring skills, and ideas, and energy and hope!
We are going to do a convoy of aid to Calais in a few weeks and I hope to get massive press coverage of that like we did with the Gaza convoys, and the Mayor of Bristol can come and send it off along with the politicians that have this situation on their conscience.
We have been on the BBC, ITV, Made in Bristol, several Radio stations, Evening Post – they can’t get enough! At the big sort day we couldn’t get the work done without falling over camerapeople. It has made the news and people really care!
But for me this is not about passive charity giving – you know the TV ads – £5 will help a child not die, the chuggers in the streets – give money to an organisation to secure it’s future and staffing levels – without actually forcing change on the ground. This is not about collecting and collating clothes that nobody wants anymore – and this is not about being complacent and guilt-ridden about the plight of others.
This is a grass-roots campaign, where people challenge the racism of the media, where people know it is a humanitarian crisis, caused by war and imperialism, where people abhor the fascist tactics of the politicians in Hungary and where people are taking responsibility for the actions of our leaders. This is, actually a movement of people who are saying, mostly, there are no borders and we are all humans and a better world is possible. I am so proud to be an International Revolutionary Socialist right now.