Calais convoy mission to deliver food to refugees

A group of men huddled around a fire in the Calais Jungle, image by Malachy Browne (CC).
A group of men huddled around a fire in the Calais Jungle, image by Malachy Browne (CC).

An Ashfierld postman is to deliver aid to the refugees in Calais, bringing food and clothes right to their doorstep.

Ashfield is to be represented at a national effort to aid refugees in Calais by taking a convoy of goods from local donors.

Former Ashfield DC chairman Linford GIbbons will be taking local donations to feed and clothe families.

Former Ashfield DC chairman Linford GIbbons will be taking local donations to feed and clothe families.

Local postman, and ardent fundraiser Linford Gibbons is joining the Convoy to Calais, as trucks and vans from across the UK join for a huge effort to deliver donated food, clothes and other goods to the Middle Eastern refugees currently collecting in northern France as they flee war and terrorism.

And the 58-year-old former chairman of Ashfield District Council has been fundraising to support the effort as thousands continue to live in terrible conditions in the camp, nicknamed ‘the Jungle’.

The Kirkby postman said: “Trade unions and charities will be meeting outside Whitehall and from their we will drive in convoy all the way to Calais.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen the harrowing pictures of refugees fleeing the war-torn areas of the Middle East. Many are families with young children and even children left alone because their parents have perished at sea.

A makeshift high street in the Calais Jungle - currently home to around 6,000 refugees from the Middle East and north Africa.

A makeshift high street in the Calais Jungle - currently home to around 6,000 refugees from the Middle East and north Africa.

“It’s something close to my heart and now I’m doing my bit with my trade union.

“However, instead of just raising money we’re going to get the food and take it to them ourselves to make sure it goes to those who need it most.

“People are living out there in tarpaulin camps and when the police have a purge they’ve got to start again and rebuild.

“They have makeshift kitchens and shops, and they’re desperately short of food items and also basic things like hygiene products.”

Calais Jungle Children's centre, image by Malachy Browne (CC).

Calais Jungle Children's centre, image by Malachy Browne (CC).

The convoy is organised by the Stop the War coalition of campaign groups and unions

A spokesman said: “This is practical aid, but it is also a huge moving protest at the way governments across the continent are failing refugees.

“This is the time to come together and say ‘stop the scapegoating’.

“We need every last lorry, van, bus and car that can come.”

Two men at the Calais Jungle, photograph from May 2015. Image by Michal Blka (CC).

Two men at the Calais Jungle, photograph from May 2015. Image by Michal Blka (CC).

Anyone can join the convoy but must register with the campaigners and book their own ferry ticket.

The Jungle made national headlines this week as hundreds of refugees believed to be linked to a row between human trafficking gangs resulting in brawls, and fires swept the tents and shacks as French authorities moved in to retake control.

The horrific scenes highlighted the awful conditions and terrifying environment that about 6,000 people are forced to live in after fleeing war in the Middle East. The news follows research by Médicins Sans Frontières which shows two thirds of the migrants have fled violence, and a third of those are trying to escape human trafficking, with many coming from Sudan as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Pakistan.

Linford has reached over £600 of his £750 target and is asking everyone to dig deep and give whatever they can to reach his goal.

To help Linford reach his target, search ‘Linford Gibbons’ at justgiving.com, or search ‘Convoy to Calais’ on Facebook. To make a donation of clothes or food in person, call him on 07429 504 974.

A shop in the Calais Jungle, image by Malachy Browne (CC).

A shop in the Calais Jungle, image by Malachy Browne (CC).

Jungle Books - a bookshop hosted in the Calais refugee camp, where hundreds of children are believed to be unaccompanied.

Jungle Books - a bookshop hosted in the Calais refugee camp, where hundreds of children are believed to be unaccompanied.