Yesterday was amazing. We spent five hours in a muddy field on an overcast day. It was freezing and there was nowhere to sit down. But we gave over 300 warm winter coats to people who desperately needed them, and that was incredibly satisfying.
Some of the people already had a coat, but when you are outside 24/7 one layer is often not enough. Shockingly many had no coat at all and we met very cold people in jumpers, denim jackets and cheap leather coats. I do not know how they survived; sleeping outside in January is no joke.
But we were able to give every single person a warm coat. And thanks to the many wonderful people who chose to give a Christmas gift to a refugee this year they were all brand new. Meaning everyone got the right size and we know that every single one is completely waterproof and has a hood too. To all those generous donors I cannot thank you enough.
One young man said to me “this is the best help I have had in Spain or France or Germany”. He meant to be nice but I found that a sobering thought. But there were many happy faces to seen as people warmed up.
Getting 300 people kitted out was a long distribution so we did our services at the same time. 600 cups of tea and coffee (Rebecca said she will be dreaming of pouring tea), hairdressing, phone charging and bike repairs. There was even a bit of dancing. It was a great day.
A lot of work goes into making something like this happen. Back office support, transport and donations, as well as the exhausted volunteers from yesterday. Thank you to everyone who played a part. The many people who said thank you to us were thanking you too. I hope you can feel their appreciation.
Sadly there are many more refugees sleeping outside in Calais who need our help. You can buy a coat for a refugee at Care4Calais.org/donate