A solidarity delegation to Calais refugees is being organised by the Stand Up To Racism organisation and Lambeth Trade Union Council. It will leave from Windrush Square, Brixton at 7am on Saturday October 17.
A demonstration will also take place to show solidarity and call on the British government to allow in more asylum seekers.
The delegation was announced during a “Lambeth says: Refugees Are Welcome Here” meeting at the Karibu Centre in Brixton attended by around 100 people.
They called on everybody in Lambeth to collect things for refugees at work, in school and in the community. Money, food, winter clothes and other practical items are the top priority.
This is not the first delegation to Calais from the area in the last month. The first, on September 5, was described as an enormous success by the chair of the Lambeth Trades Council, Sara Tomlinson, during the meeting.
“We were absolutely inundated with gifts and people donating things. We thought we would have a few bags and we ended up with hundreds of bin bags of donations from generous people wanting to help,” she said.
Most of the speakers at the meeting agreed that there has been a shift in attitudes towards the refugees’ situation over the last few weeks and people seem to be more willing to help.
Photojournalist Guy Smallman, who has reported on migrants’ conditions in many parts of the world in recent years, including Calais, said he was optimistic: “Even though the number of refugees worldwide is higher than ever, there has been a massive change in attitude,” he said. “Refugees themselves now are aware of the support they have.”
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Stand Up To Racism, has stressed the need for solidarity when winter is coming. “Solidarity means making sure that those people don’t freeze inside Calais,” he said.
He presented the demonstration planned for October 17 in Calais as a way to “break a line” between European citizens and migrants and “send a picture of what unity looks like”.
He went on: ”We have got a chance to save those people’s lives. This generation is going to be tested by the greatest refugee crisis.”
Finn Brennan, London organiser of the UK train drivers’ union ASLEF said trade unions had always been international organisations – “We support workers across the world in a world with no borders.”
The convoy leaving from Windrush Square on October 17 will assemble at 6.45am. People using their own vehicles will also be able to join the others in the car park of Eurotunnel in Folkestone at 10.50am and are asked to purchase a ticket for the tunnel for that time.
If you want to take part in the delegation, make donations or get more details call or text 07956579566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.