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What Is CalAid?

CalAid works to bring help, hope and dignity to refugees and displaced people. We act on our belief that all human life is precious, all people should be allowed to live with dignity and everyone should have the opportunity to contribute something positive.

CalAid is part of, and operates under the auspices of the charity, Prism the Gift Fund (charity number 1099682).

For more information on CalAid’s achievements so far, please visit About CalAid.

Is CalAid a Charity?

From the start, we wanted all CalAid’s funds to be held by experts in charity law, accountability and finance.  So since 2015 CalAid has been a “collective fund” housed in the UK charity, Prism the Gift Fund (charity number 1099682).  CalAid is one of about a hundred similar groups working under Prism’s umbrella – you can see a description of “collective funds” on Prism’s website and a list of some of the groups, including CalAid, here.  Now we’re up and running and have a great team in place, we’ve decided to apply to be an independent charity.  So in early February 2017 we submitted our application and will keep you updated on how the process goes.

Running CalAid as a Prism “collective fund” has meant we have been able to focus on reaching refugees, while Prism handles all the legal compliance and financial accountability.  Every single penny CalAid has raised has been held by Prism.  This means all our income and expenditure is scrutinised by an independent body and audited by independent accountants.  To spend any of our funds at all two Prism employees must approve payments as well as at least two people on the CalAid steering committee.  All the work of CalAid and the other “collective funds” is checked by, and the responsibility of, the Prism trustees.  This way we not only adhere to UK charity law, but also reach best practice in governance and financial controls.

This strong governance model, and our proven track record on the ground, has meant established NGOs like Oxfam, Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Salvation Army and UNHCR have collaborated with us in our work in Epirus, Greece.  We’re privileged to also work with great examples of the grassroots movement operating in Epirus, including Refugee Support Europe and One Refugee Child.

We are extremely grateful to Prism.  Because of them we have been able to focus on getting aid to France, Greece, Syria and Afghanistan from our base in the UK, and we have been able to provide relief and deliver education and health projects on the ground in Greece.  We have shipped over 350 tonnes of aid from our UK warehouses via commercial haulage with DHL, Fullers Logistics and Anglo-Greek Shipping, and via the public through hundreds of trucks, vans, cars, trailers and even a horse box.  We put a solar array onto one of the Sudanese schools in the Calais camp, distributed solar lighting to hundreds of the residents and funded shelter building materials.  We gave some of our funding to Calais Kitchens, Help Refugees, Care4Calais and Refugee Phones because we believe in working together.  Through local optician Manthos Group and local ophthalmologist Dr. Christos Gartzios we have so far provided eye tests to over 300 children in Greece and all further testing and glasses needed.  We’re just about to start rolling out the project for adults in the region too.  We built a school, provided social spaces, increased safety and improved the infrastructure at the Faneromeni refugee camp.  We currently deliver clothing, toiletries, shoes, blankets and more to the 13 refugee sites in the Epirus region in Greece.  We buy new underwear for all refugees in the region and we’re in the early stages of creating a refugee library project.

No one on the CalAid board, or any of the founders, have ever been paid for any of our work for CalAid.  We currently have four paid workers.  Nicky works on CalAid’s comms and finances, Dan manages our warehousing and distribution, Alex oversees our projects and volunteers, and Becky manages CalAid as a whole.  For us, the board and founders, running CalAid has cost us and our friends and families.  We have given our time, our money, our labour and remodelled our lives to fit around keeping the work going.  And rightly so.  We are responding to the need of people who have lost and sacrificed more than we can ever know.  We’re grateful to Prism for making this possible, but even more to the hundreds of amazing people who have stood beside us in warehouses, in distributions and kitchens, driven with us in trucks, cars and vans, helped us work out how best to meet the need.  We’re grateful to the hundreds of people who supported us through donations to give help and hope to thousands of people who needed it more.  Thank you to you all.

We’re always happy to hear from you.  If you have any questions at all about CalAid’s work or how we are run then please email us at info@calaid.co.uk

How can I donate money?

To donate online please click here.  Thank you!

To donate by bank transfer, or information on how to gift from abroad, please go to contact us, or email info@calaid.co.uk

To donate by cheque, please make cheques payable to CalAid and send to: Camilla Elwood, Prism the Gift Fund, 20 Gloucester Place, London, W1U 8HA. Please include your email address so that we can send you a Gift Aid declaration.

What else can I donate?

We are not taking donations ongoing of clothing, hygiene products, food or similar.  We will be seeking specific items at certain times.  Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with what we are asking for.

Where and when can I donate?

CalAid are not taking donations ongoing of clothing, hygiene products, food or similar.  Please check these websites to see if there is a group near you taking such items: http://bit.ly/1Y42uMw or refugeemaps.org

Alternatively, search “refugee action/support” and your borough, county or town name on Facebook groups – e.g. High Wycombe refugee action / refugee support Birmingham / etc. – to see if a group near you has a Facebook presence.

CalAid will be seeking specific items at certain times.  Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with what we are asking for.

Can I drop donations directly to Calais?

If you would like to donate to groups based in Calais, contact one of the established warehouses. You can contact them on the following email addresses to find out what is needed and to book in a drop date:
•    L’Auberge des Migrants/Help Refugees: calaisdonations@gmail.com or head to Help Refugees

•    Care4Calais: clare@care4calais.org or head to Care4Calais

How can I volunteer?

CalAid is in need of volunteers for a variety of roles based in the UK and in Greece.  If you’d like to volunteer please fill out our contact form here.

In the meantime you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Are you looking for trained volunteer medics?

We are not currently working on delivering medical aid to refugees. We recommend you contact Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors of the World if you would like to help in this capacity.

What if I have a concern to raise?

If you have a concern about a CalAid volunteer or have a safeguarding matter to discuss, please email info@calaid.co.uk as soon as you can.  If your concern relates to a member of staff, please email Becky, CalAid’s charity manager, at rmchapple@googlemail.com.  If your concern relates to CalAid’s management, or you feel matters you have raised have not been dealt with adequately, then please contact the CalAid trustees at joincalaid.trustees@gmail.com.

  • 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