A huge distribution
I’m feeling really proud of my volunteer group and the refugees we support, because in December we had a marathon FIVE large distributions. At the biggest we gave out clothing to 500 people! That’s 500 people who began the day with only what they stood up in and ended it with a clean, fresh new change of clothes. This restores a bit of dignity and their faith in human kindness. Life might be OK after all they have been through.
I volunteer with the Slough & Heathrow Care4Calais group, out on the western edges of London. We have some huge airport hotels to look after, three are new and house 1,300 people. The largest hotel currently houses 800 and that was the biggest challenge. It was something of an emergency because there are so many new arrivals with no spare clothes, possessions or anything.
They were so pleased to receive the clothes, and really eager to help each other with translating, and to help us with the clothing. One guy was struggling with English when another man cut in, offering to translate for him. This second man turned out to be a medical doctor, who had just crossed the English Channel on a boat. He had a bad cold and was not well, but he was still keen to help everyone, and asked if he could help us the boxes!
At the ‘smaller’ distributions of over 100 people we like to let people browse and choose their items. For this larger number of people we didn’t have the capacity for this so we made up outfit packs in small, medium, large and extra-large sizes. Each pack contains joggers or jeans, a t shirt, a jumper, new underwear and socks. As it’s really important that people always feel they had a choice, we also created an area where items could be exchanged if people were not happy with what they received.
Seeing 800 people was a long and tiring day, but the kindness and supportiveness of the refugees and the other 15 or so volunteers kept me going. I might have been exhausted by the end, but I also felt incredibly positive and pleased with what we had achieved. Days like this remind me of what’s great about volunteering and I’d encourage anyone to give it a go – just email [email protected] and see what you can do!
With this many people it will be a long time before we can raise enough money to revisit these hotels. If you would like to help we have our own fundraiser. Please do share it www.goldengiving.com/fundrai…/new-arrival-packs-for-refugees
Tamzin, volunteer, Slough