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Aid convoy bound for Calais as response to refugee crisis grows

Published 05/09/2015

Britons are delivering supplies to migrants living in a Calais camp
Britons are delivering supplies to migrants living in a Calais camp

A convoy of 20 cars with emergency items for displaced people is heading to Calais, France, as part of a groundswell of public action taking place across the country in response to the growing refugee crisis.

People across the UK have arranged to take vital supplies of food, clothing and shelter to thousands of people affected by conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

Maz Saleem, of Stand Up To Racism which has organised the Calais convoy with £6,000 worth of supplies, said: "I am completely appalled by our government's negative attitude towards the refugee crisis.

"I think it's disgraceful the way David Cameron has made out that people are coming over here to get benefits when actually they are fleeing war and persecution."

Small independent groups have also taken it on themselves to gather supplies to take across to France including the Al'burrito bar in Southsea, Hampshire.

The staff and friends of the Mexican-themed bar have collected enough donations to fill six vans to take across to Calais and they are now considering starting an official charity to continue and expand their work.

The bar posted on Facebook: "Thank you so so very much Portsmouth, you have been amazing. Unfortunately we are out of room and cannot take any more donations, you have filled up six vans."

MA Goldman, of Spotted Portsmouth, wrote: "Wow! A massive big-up to the boys at Al'Burrito and all the amazing and generous people of Portsmouth who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in literally overwhelming them with donations for the poor souls in Calais."

Also, a team of people have got together to collect tents left behind by revellers at next weekend's Bestival on the Isle of Wight to be taken across to Calais.

Football fans in London are showing their support by making donations and waving "#RefugeesWelcome" banners at upcoming matches.

Aston Villa supporter James Rushton said he hopes to help people "open their hearts and minds".

He added: "You may have worked hard for what you have, you've fought all your life for what you own, you've saved for your car and your Playstation 4, you've earned it.

"Just don't forget that some people never had the chance to earn or fight or work."

Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Trust is collecting food, clothing and camping supplies at the club's game today.

Charities have received hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from members of the public.

Save the Children raised more than £500,000 in 24 hours with the support of several authors, including award-winning children's writer Patrick Ness and David Nicholls, who penned best-seller One Day.

Ness pledged to donated £10,000 on Twitter and posted: "My angry tweeting does pretty much nothing. Except say, maybe, that this isn't in my name. Which feels right but feeble."

Tanya Steele, of Save the Children, said: "Public empathy for the desperate refugees risking their lives to reach the sanctuary of Europe has been incredible, the British public should be proud."

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson is urging residents to open their doors to refugee families.

"Bristol has a long and proud history of welcoming people displaced by conflict and as a city of sanctuary we aspire to continue that tradition," he said.

"This is a dreadful and heart-breaking crisis, which needs a long-term and sustainable solution to really make a difference."

Green councillors have called for the city to take in 50 refugees.

"Other cities such as Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh have already agreed to host 50 refugees," Councillor Rob Telford, Green Group leader, said.

"As a city of sanctuary, Bristol must also play its part."

Members of the Jewish community are also donating to the World Jewish Relief's Refugee Crisis Appeal.

Paul Anticoni, World Jewish Relief chief executive, said: "Many Jews wouldn't be here today without our ancestors finding shelter as refugees.

"Our community must once again come together to take action to support those fleeing violence, war and persecution."

Campaigners will hold protests in London on Saturday September 12 to try to persuade the Government to take in more refugees.

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