Thank you to all who donated in 2016. We have achieved such a lot with your support. Many small grants and loans have enabled local refugees and asylum seekers to get important documents processed and applied for. Calais and the Jungle remain on our mind and we are currently raising funds for waterproof sleeping bags to support people who do not even have a camp to sleep in and are forced to sleep rough in towns and cities. As always the excellent Care4Calais is our conduit to directing these donations. The amazingly successful Syrian Pop up café we held earlier this year is going to be repeated and has enabled our new Syrian neighbours to consider regular work where they can show people the amazing food of Syria and share stories of their memories of happier times. We also launched our Microfinance projects this year supporting a Syrian family who cannot leave and a local Syrian man to retrain. Your donations help us pay for regular community evenings where information and activities enable refugees from all around the world to empower themselves with skills and knowledge. None of this would happen without you. Thanks you
At present we seem to have changed role from what we started doing. We still visit Calais regularly and have been supporting such wonderful events as an Arabic evening for our new Syrian neighbours to meet Colchester's wonderful community and an Eid celebration in the amazing First Site building - who let us have the space for free. We do a lot of advocacy work now - with people who have made it here from Calais, families who are living here but cannot access support or need a small gift of money to move on a passport application or send help to a loved one still in a dangerous place. We have been able, through your generosity, to change lives with relatively small donations - although they do of course mount up! And crises happen, so its always good to have a fund building up so we can respond to urgent needs. One person posted on here that they had only a small amount to give - thank you to each and every one - small amounts can enable a bus pass for a week which will enable somebody to access a course. It can pay for a phone card so a family can communicate after a year apart. It can buy a dress and a present for a small child who has been invited to their first English party and has nothing to wear and no gift to take. I know you understand...just wanted to share - Thank you SO much
For all of you who have donated to RA-C we would like to send the warmest thanks. The money you have sent has enabled trips to Calais roughly every 5 to 6 weeks by teams of volunteers from around Colchester. The work there has spanned times of enormous change in the 'Jungle' camp with almost 2/3 of the infrastructure and dwellings being demolished by the French authorities. And yet at least 2/3 of the people remain. Sadly, there are growing numbers of unaccompanied children who have managed to find their way to France in the hope that they can join family or friends in Britain.
Working with Care4Calais we have been able to help move shelters, distribute food and supplies and even teach English to people in the camp. This work will continue in June when we also hope to support Kitchen in Calais with food supplies and volunteers - they feed 1,000 people a hot meal every single day of the week. A massive undertaking done with love and patience.
Colchester has also seen 5 families arrive from Syria through the Governments Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme and I am pleased to report that each family has been given help and support by RA-C. We have also started to organise social events that are inclusive and will support our evolving community. these have been enormously successful.
Many thanks for your generous support,
Refugee Action - Colchester