Local charity Refugee Aid receives overwhelming support to help Calais refugees

By Hazel Murray, The Cornishman, October 27, 2015.

A LOCAL charity group has received ‘overwhelming’ support from local businesses and residents in its bid to help refugees trapped in camps at Calais.

Refugee Aid, a recently formed charity created in aid of the refugee crisis, will be making a journey to Calais next week with a van full of donations, thanks to members of the Help for Refugees- West Penwith Facebook group and Newbridge-based West Cornwall Removals.

Refugee Aid founder Tamzin Wood said: “I feel grateful and honoured with everyone’s help, time and donations, but also watching the situation grow every day in Europe makes me feel very small.”

However, thanks to the donation of a van from West Cornwall Removals, donations will go to Calais next week.

Tamzin said: “It’s taken so much of the stress out. For it now to be professionally delivered and with all the work that has gone in from the volunteers and the sorting team, it’s absolutely fantastic.

“Hopefully now with a van we can finally do something and make a difference no matter how small. I may feel powerless watching it, but at least we’re doing something.”

Despite feeling torn about how the situation in Calais should be handled, West Cornwall Removals owner Viv Wills said: “It’s absolutely horrendous – kids can barely walk around supermarkets, let alone thousands of miles. Your heart aches for them.

“At the end of the day, it’s not the children’s fault.”

The journey to Calais will not only allow the group to take donations to those in need, but also give them the chance to report back on their findings and how they think donated money should be distributed, with numerous fundraising events to be held following the trip.

“The Queen’s Hotel in Penzance has very generously donated their ball room for our art auction in November, which will make such a big difference to the cause and how much we can give to the refugees,” said Tamzin.

The event will be held at the Queen’s Hotel on November 20, with work from prominent local artists such as Jess Cooper and Jonty Henshall, and is to be hosted by renowned auctioneer David Lay, with an online auction starting on November 1 – the brainchild of local resident Holly Whitelaw.

Popular local band ‘Pondlife’ has also reformed for a one night sell-out gig, at the Ritz, Penzance, on November 28. Already more than 1,200 invites for the locally-loved ska band have gone out on Facebook, with tickets being sold online and in local Penzance shops Fishboy and The Music Box.

Band member Fi Read said: “If I had a spare couple of grand, I’d give it to the charities working on the ground, but I don’t. So if Pondlife re-emerging from the Pond can convince other people to put their hands in their pockets, and have a cracking night to boot, then it’s a win-win, and job done.”

Other fundraising gigs will be held at Penzance’s Archie Browns café, starting on November 13, with live music and feedback from Refugee Aid’s Calais trip, with another to be held on December 4.

Tamzin added: “We now want to thank West Cornwall Removals and the West Penwith Facebook group, as well as Cathy Allen and her husband who have just put in so much effort. It’s now possible to take down all the donations we have received as the winter season starts and the camps get busier by the day.

“After this we’ll start looking at Greece and the other end of Europe, where the situation is getting seriously desperate.”

More fundraising events will also be held across Penzance and West Penwith by other members of the Help for Refugees – West Penwith Facebook group, which will include tonight’s reggae night at Sound Nightclub, Penzance, and a casino night to be held on December 12 at the Ritz.

Online tickets for the Pondlife gig can be bought at www.eventbrite.com and those who wish to donate to the Crowdfunder campaign for Refugee Aid can do so at justgiving.com/kit-2-calais

To access the online auction visit http://www.facebook.com/charityauctionpenzance and to join the Help for Refugee – West Penwith Facebook group, click here

Read more on the crisis at www.cornishman.co.uk

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