This coming Tuesday 24th November, a group of Oxford students plan to drive two vans of supplies to Calais to be distributed to refugees.
The initiative follows a recent fire in ‘The Jungle’ – a refugee camp – which destroyed 40 shelters and left over 150 refugees exposed to the elements.
The Oxford-wide scheme has involved representatives collecting supplies across most colleges and has also crowdfunded approximately £2,000 which will be put towards winter supplies for refugees.
Asked about the origins of the initiative, Alethea Osborne, Women’s Officer at St. Anthony’s GCR, commented, “It came out of a fairly casual conversation about the refugee crisis in Europe and what we could do to help and so was fairly informal really…then we made a Facebook page and crowdfunding page and everything just took off!
“I was contacted very quickly by people from different colleges wanting to help and we now have reps in 16 colleges and the response has just been amazing.”
A list of priorities produced by L’Auberge and Help Calais, updated on a weekly basis, has been used to make sure every donation is as valuable as possible. The top five ‘critical’ priorities are pre-made identical food parcels, volunteers, blankets, sleeping bags and tents. The Wadham donation team has stated it is specifically hoping for men’s trousers, boots and trainers, winter jackets, hats, scarfs, gloves and blankets.
Wadham has been among the largest college contributors to the Oxford-wide initiative, which has been co-organised by Osborne and Jack Clift, LGBTQA officer and bar manager at St. Anthony’s.
Earlier this week, Wadham representative for the initiative, Niamh Macintyre, told Cherwell, “Wadham will be collecting physical donations of clothes and blankets for refugees in ‘The Jungle’ this week and Seventh Week…as part of a convoy heading over from Oxford to Calais on the 24th. We’ve had a really great response so far from both students and staff.”