Lavenham steps up to support Calais refugees
A lorry left Lavenham for Calais on Monday taking with it clothes, blankets, food and other necessities for the refugees camped there.
With winter setting in and thousands of displaced and desperate migrants finding themselves in camps in coastal France, one woman decided to take action.
Just over two weeks ago Louise Harrison from Lavenham started an initiative to take aid from the village to the L’Auberge des Migrants camp in Calais.
“I am overwhelmed by the response I have had,” said Mrs Harrison. “We had over 150 boxes filled.
“The contents of the lorry have been donated by people of our wider community with camp beds, sleeping bags, clothing, blankets and food.
“Incredibly thoughtful and intelligent giving included supermarket deliveries of rice and tea and clothes.
“A retired couple in the village went to Argos and bought camp beds and people have had blankets dry cleaned so that they can be used.
“There has been a continuous stream of people to my house for ten days now.”
Although the aid given will on help a small fraction of those at the camp, Mrs Harrison said she hoped others would be inspired to carry out similar initiatives.
As well as the donated items the group has set up a fundraising page to help pay for the fuel and crossing to get the lorry to the camp.
Any additional funds raised will be given to Hand in Hand for Syria, a charity taking both medical and food aid into Syria.
Matthew Schofield, manager of Schofield Removals, voluntarily drove his lorry to France, with packaging suppliers UK Packaging donating the boxes.
Mrs Harrison said it was important the migrants were being supported, especially as winter sets in.
“I just feel the papers are so focussed on air strikes and ISIS these refugees are being forgotten, winter is upon us and people are arriving daily.
“The message I want to get out is that these people are educated, they had lives and houses. They are not economic migrants, they have had to leave their houses because they are being bombed.
“It would be great to have a little attention to remind people of their plight.”
Admitting to being exhausted after a busy 15 days, Mrs Harrison said she would not have been able to enjoy Christmas without doing something.
She is considering further events in the spring.
To donate to Mrs Harrison’s fundraising page visit, crowdfunding.justgiving.com/LavenhamtoCalais