Emmaus Hertfordshire delivers 3,600 water bottles to homeless refugees
On Sunday 22 July, Emmaus Hertfordshire travelled to Calais to help distribute 3,600 water bottles, 1,600 sim cards, sleeping bags and clothing to homeless refugees.
Emmaus companions, as the formerly homeless people who are living and working at Emmaus Hertfordshire are known, have been going over to Calais since December 2014 with Emmaus staff and volunteers to provide humanitarian aid to refugees.
In January 2016, the charity teamed up with Care4Calais, who provide direct aid to refugees living in the worst conditions across France and Belgium, to act as a central hub for receiving and transporting donations from across the country to Calais. Emmaus Hertfordshire now make the journey once a month due to the overwhelming amount of donations received, distributing much-needed items to those without access to shelter from the elements, basic sanitation or health facilities, adequate food, clothing or other daily essentials.
Ant Flower has lived at Emmaus Hertfordshire since 2015 and has travelled to Calais over a dozen times. Speaking on his most recent trip, he said:
“I go on the Calais trips with Emmaus Herefordshire because our community is all about helping other people who are less fortunate than yourself. Emmaus helped me when I needed it the most and has provided the opportunity for me to be in a position where I am able to give something back. Every time I go to Calais, I see how grateful the people are for the donations.”
There are currently around 1,000 refugees sleeping rough in Calais and Dunkirk; another 500 refugees in Brussels; and over 1,500 in Paris. These people have no access to even basic sanitation and may not have changed their clothes in weeks, leading to skin disease and similar problems. Since the closure of the Calais migrant camps last October (Calais Jungle), these refugees have no shelter or regular food supply, and their health is in shocking decline.
Tony Ferrier, CEO at Emmaus Hertfordshire, has travelled to Calais over 20 times with Emmaus volunteers, staff and companions to donate items, and said:
“Solidarity, meaning to help others less fortunate than yourself, is central to the Emmaus way of life. Everyone at Emmaus Hertfordshire is encouraged to carry out acts of solidarity to support people who need it most. For companions in particular, this has a huge impact on their confidence and self-worth, showing them that they can make a difference to someone else’s life and add value to the lives of people around them. Our regular trips to Calais are a form of solidarity with the migrants currently suffering unliveable conditions. We continue to be overwhelmed with the support of local businesses and individuals who give generous donations.”
Emmaus Hertfordshire offers companions an alternative route out of homelessness within a supportive environment by providing a home for as long as they need and the opportunity to work full time in the charity’s second-hand shops at Tring, St Albans, Harpenden, Barnet, Hertford and Hemel Hempstead. The income generated through Emmaus’s shops goes straight back into the community and enables companions to develop skills, rebuild their self-respect and help others in greater need than themselves.
To find out more about Emmaus Hertfordshire, visit www.emmaus.org.uk/hertfordshire.
To find your nearest Care4Calais collection point for donated items, visit www.care4calais.org.