A Huge and Uplifting Distribution!
There are many highs and many challenges to being a Care4Calais volunteer, but the last distribution I did was definitely one of the highs!
We distributed coats and backpacks to 350 refugees in the Slough/Heathrow area, which are both vitally important. Refugees often arrive in the UK with just the clothes they have on, so they desperately need coats to keep them warm when the weather can still be cold. And backpacks mean they can keep safe the few possessions they have.
I have been Regional Lead (Slough/Heathrow) for more than 6 months now, and I enjoy our distributions for the way they bring people together. Official C4C volunteers and some asylum-seeking residents from hotel accommodation organise the donations to be given out. The asylum seekers have the language skills we lack, as well as time and enthusiasm. This helps explain our procedures and keeps things light so there are no misunderstandings.
Everyone enjoys the distributions for different reasons. One asylum seeker translator volunteer said to me, “At the distributions we really do not feel lonely any more. It’s good to know that someone cares about us and I myself hope I can follow in your footsteps and help others. This is the greatest lesson of life. I feel thankful.”
Most of the hotel staff really care about their residents and they appreciate our volunteering and the donors who support us. This time one of the hotel security guys was particularly helpful. He stood out in comparison to his more burly colleagues, seeming too slight and well turned-out to help hustle shivering asylum seekers into queues to wait for a distribution of coats and backpacks. But that wasn’t the case, though – he enthusiastically stepped behind our make-shift registration desk, and helped us show the young men the jackets that were on offer. It felt so satisfying to give out so many coats and see so many smiling faces.
Even though Spring is coming, the weather here can be a bit of a shock to the system for newly-arrived refugees. Coats are always a valuable and expensive item so we are always on the lookout for more or for good deals so we can buy some in. If you still have a winter coat you no longer wear please consider donating it to us!
To volunteer or donate got to care4calais.org