Meet Rosie, a UK volunteer braving COVID in Calais
“I’d never been to Calais before, but I have been volunteering with refugees for a couple of years now. I’ve followed Care4Calais’ work for a while and saw that they were short on volunteers. I like the way Care4Calais operates; there’s a real resilience here.
“The refugee crisis is a largely ignored crisis and one that’s been going on for so long. What’s happening now is a huge crisis globally but, at a time when vulnerable people are supposed to be protected with social distancing and isolation, backs are being turned on these people who have been suffering for years already.
“It’s the hypocrisy of COVID-19 being a crisis and the refugees not that led me here.
“There’s about 12 of us volunteering here at the moment. Some people have extended their stay since they’ve been here because they’ve seen how necessary it is. I’m set to stay for another three weeks, but I’d like to see how many volunteers are here then. If they’re still really short then maybe I’ll stay a bit longer.
“Normally for the first half of the day we prep, and the second half of the day we distribute. Whether that’s in the bigger camps or the smaller camps we cater for.
“We make food packs, sort through clothes and we’re currently making face masks because the French government might make it mandatory to wear them in the street. We want to make sure people are prepared, and that they don’t have to be restricted to the camp if this happens. We have to be quick on our feet at the moment.
“When we’ve finished distribution, we sometimes find out a bit more about what’s happening in the camps and what people are feeling and experiencing. They’ll call their children over to say hello. You really get to know the individual stories of people rather than looking at people as a whole camp. You get to know their names, what country they’re from, what route they took to get to Calais, what they hope for the future.”
Spending lockdown in Calais
As soon as lockdown was implemented in the UK and Rosie’s job working in film and television was put on hold, she made the quick decision to journey from Ireland to Calais to give Care4Calais one of the many extra pairs of hands it so desperately needs at the moment.
Thanks to volunteers like Rosie, since the COVID-19 pandemic arose, many refugees have received food packs, clothes and face masks, which are all essential for their survival during this time. However, with lower volunteer numbers due to lockdown, we need more help than ever before.
To volunteer or donate, please click here.