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CalAid is a grassroots charity, providing humanitarian aid and practical assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people. CalAid currently operates predominantly in Greece.

The Story So Far

August 2015 to April 2016
In August 2015, CalAid started as a group of volunteers delivering and distributing a few vanloads of clothing, sleeping bags, tents and food.  From September to December 2015 the CalAid team focused on large-scale public donation drops, in Dalston, Slough, Islington and Lewisham. The response was huge. Over 350 volunteers attended the first drop day alone to help unload, sort, bag and transport the donated goods.

Sorting, packaging and loading vehicles continued at our storage units in Slough and Islington up to April 2016, with hundreds of volunteers spending weekdays and weekends producing over 1,000 pallets of donated aid.

In this period CalAid delivered over £6 million worth of aid, benefitting over 60,000 people. Between August 2015 and April 2016 we raised £235,978 in donated funds and spent £157,680. We used these funds as follows:

  • Storage costs and costs of transporting aid to Greece, northern France and Syria
  • A solar array installed onto one of the schools and safe solar lighting distributed to residents of the Calais camp
  • Support for the shelter building and the Calais Kitchens food programmes
  • CalAid staff costs, admin and overhead

April 2016 to present

From April 2016 onwards CalAid focused increasingly on the Epirus region of Greece.  At the time, many of the camps in the area had insufficient volunteer and third-sector support.  We found and renovated a warehouse space to serve the region with non-food item aid and began organizing to receive aid and distribute it within the camps. One of the CalAid team moved to the area to build a team and coordinate our activities.  Since then CalAid has:

  • Assisted the UNHCR with camp coordination for the Faneromeni refugee camp, an informal settlement of Yazidi refugees, including fixing leaking rooves, flooring, drains, electrics and other infrastructure improvements
  • Built a school on the Faneromeni site and worked with MSF to produce other community spaces
  • Delivered clothing and hygiene items to residents to four camps, including specifically targeting aid packages to new mothers
  • Launched an optical health project providing eye tests for all refugee children in the region, tests for referred adults and glasses and advanced testing for those that need it
  • Recruited 18 highly skilled volunteers to provide basic teaching, craft and youth services to the Filippiada and Faneromeni camps over the summer of 2016
  • Launched youth and education activities in both camps, equipping children to be ready for formal education
  • Brought together women of different ethnic groups for practical craft sessions and social gatherings
  • I was one of the lucky ones, departing from Egypt rather than Libya, where conditions are generally more favourable, but where the price of the boat is double. We were at sea for 16 days. It was only supposed to take 5 but the crew lost the compass and we were lost at sea. We had enough water for one week, so after about 10 days many of us thought we would die. In the end only a few did, and here I am.

  • I’m a Sudanese law student but had to break off my studies three years in with a year to go. I had to leave my wife behind to try to earn income for my family

  • The bad men in Afghanistan, they kill you once. David Cameron kills me every night.

  • We huddle together in their shelter to keep warm at night. The cold and damp have started to make us all ill. I know it makes more sense to try to gain asylum in another part of Europe, but I know that if I give up on seeing my son now, I’ll likely never see him again.

  • I helped to run the police academy in Kabul, where I became a target for my work training police officers, so I fled Afghanistan. I have been in the Calais camp known as the ‘Jungle’ for a few months now, and live with a small community of Afghans who help to look after each other, sharing food, clothing and shelter materials