Update from Calais January 2019

By Mike Stoddart

This post is a follow-up from my visit to northern France in January 18.

Mike Stoddart and Jo Watt of Action for Refugees, Edge Hill University

I was able to return to Calais at the turn of the year to deliver much-needed donations from people concerned regarding the desperate situation there. My vehicle was packed with donations of warm clothes, food and toiletries in response to Care4Calais’ (C4C) #Coats4Calais appeal. My trip was kindly supported by the Global Unity Society of Edge Hill University students union.

I travelled overnight after finishing work on the Friday then caught a ferry from Dover to Calais. On arrival in Calais I drove to an industrial estate not far from the port where many of the refugees try to survive as best they can amid the industrial units and wasteland.

All afternoon volunteers from Care4Calais were busy providing valuable services to the refugees.

Verrotieres, sometimes known as the new Jungle. Image from Google maps.

Most importantly, they were distributing footwear for the refugees. These are classed by the charity as high value items because of their importance in cold, wet weather and the need to avoid medical problems that arise from having constantly cold, wet feet. It is a constant struggle to keep warm and dry as being wet and cold quickly takes its toll on the body and spirit. The volunteers were also providing hot drinks and just as importantly, taking care to engage in conversation with as many people as they could. Continue reading

Migration Working Group North-West

Action for Refugees supports the Migration Working Group North-West, led by Edge Hill academic Dr Zana Vathi. Members of AfR are affiliated to this new group, which brings together academics and activists across the region working in, or researching migration in the North-West. Affiliated members beyond Edge Hill include arts, health and housing organisations based in the region.

Continue reading

Getting to University: support

Did you apply for university when you were 18 or 19, or go back to study as an adult? You may remember the application process as challenging: trying to find out what might work best for you from many options, work out what you could afford, perhaps, and convince your chosen institution that they wanted to give you a place.

If you want to go to university in the UK and are from a refugee background, there may be a number of additional barriers.  In common with other students from a less affluent background, some of this will be in the form of resources (the chance to travel to visit different institutions before applying, for example) Some of the members of AfR have supported applicants, and report that they may also face hidden costs, such as taking English language tests. In some cases students from a refugee background have been asked to pay international rate fees.

Some organisations have recognised these barriers and offer support. Continue reading