Truro church heading to Calais to deliver donations
A request for donations of goods to help ease the humanitarian issue in camps in France has resulted in an outpouring of goodwill and support from people across Cornwall.
Within days, the Sunday School at All Saints Church in Highertown was filled with everything from kettles, airbeds and toiletries to sleeping bags, clothes and tents and the donations continue to come in. The entry porch is now also filling up.
Revd Jeremy Putnam, vicar at All Saints Church, said: “It is amazing how quickly our message has travelled around. We have donations coming in from individuals and churches from all over Cornwall.
“While we didn’t ask for money we have received some and it is very welcome. It will enable us to purchase other items that may be needed while we are in the area and can better see the needs. We really appreciate all the support.”
The church offered to act as a collection point for donations following a request from one of its members, Lydia Remick.
Jeremy said: “The idea came about after Lydia, one of our Readers in Training at the church, had been approached by a friend from Cornwall Roller Derby asking if we would get involved and act as a collection point. We felt there was a real issue about how these people were being perceived and felt this was a challenge we should get involved with. It’s about carrying the message that these are human beings. Our beliefs are a far stronger bond than our passports.”
He added: “As a church we felt comfortable about reaching out in this way because we know we are also involved in local work as well. We work with the homeless and we support the Truro Foodbank with other churches in the area. Christians Against Poverty use the church for consultations too; and members of our church are heavily involved in soup kitchens, street pastors, St Petrocs, dementia action and much more. It’s about loving thy neighbour whether they are here on our doorstep or in Calais.”
While there has been fierce and emotive debate around immigration, the living conditions in the camps has barely registered a footnote. Jeremy said: “Currently 5,000 immigrants are living in diabolical conditions, suffering awful health problems as a result. The UK government’s answer was to build a wall one mile long. Europe does not need another wall. It needs compassion.”
Leigh Daynes, Executive Director of the UK charity Doctors in the World said: “I’ve visited the wretched refugee camps in Darfur and I’ve walked around post-earthquake Haiti. But in all my years of working in aid and development, I’ve never been as shocked as the day I met a group of 10-year-old Syrian boys, riddled with scabies, huddled together in a rain-sodden ditch under scraps of tarpaulin [in a lorry park in Calais].”
The donations at All Saints will be taken to Calais early this week by a group of volunteers from the church. While there the group also plan on visiting the makeshift Eritrean church which has been set up.
Rowley Surridge, Churchwarden at All Saints, said: “We are hoping to link in with charities already working in the area such as Doctors in the World and The World Wide Tribe. They have been working in Calais for a while and they have connections there. They know what they are doing and who most needs the help. We are aiming to learn from their experience. It is also about supporting what they are already doing on the ground.”
Rowley added: “It’s a great adventure being part of All Saints Church, Highertown. It is not about being comfortable. It’s about challenging yourself to do something. We are all created equal and with this we are acknowledging that. We are incredibly well off in this country and many are not. We care about that.”