Dunkirk in December

Post by Nisha, Dulwich Hamlet Fan

Fans of Dulwich Hamlet, Clapton FC and St Pauli headed out to France on Friday 4 December for our fourth trip to deliver supplies such as food, sleeping bags, hot water bottles, blankets, gas, wind up lights and warm water proof coats.

On the morning of 5 December part of the team (Claire, Matteo and Juliet) went off to do food shopping for Dunkirk camp, the other half of the team (Ceclia and I) set off to the Auberge warehouse to drop off a large amount of fruits and veggies, which were shared among the free kitchens.

We then went to see Sofinee of Kitchen in Calais to give her a few bits and pieces such as flasks and vitamins – Claire and Matteo dropped off a separate load of food the previous night.

While we were with Sofinee, we met a wonderful Dutch woman called Ellen. She showed us some beautiful colouring books that her 80-year-old father had made by hand for the children in the camp. When we told her we were going to Dunkirk, she topped us up with lots of blankets to give out to the people. Our van was now full again so we headed to Dunkirk, not before picking up our friend Riaz who joined us for the day.

On the way we met up with Rita and Tom, a lovely couple from Winchester who reached out to us on social media. Rita and Tom came with us on their first visit to Dunkirk, they brought lots of useful things such as sleeping bags, water proof footwear and blankets.

We headed to Hafsa’s small garage to drop off some of the things so that she could distribute them to the most needy during the week when there are less people delivering aid.

The other half of the team turned up at Hafsa’s garage with the food shopping and sat and made food parcels, which were distributed on camp later that afternoon.

Riaz, Rita, Tom, Celia and I then headed to camp to start distributing our haul of blankets and sleepings bags to residents. Conditions in the camp were much worse than two weeks ago. The mud had become almost swamp-like in places and there were many many more residents than there had been on our last visit.

Riaz was a great help as he was able to communicate with the residents. It made it a lot easier to find out what exactly what the residents needed and to make arrangements to get it to them later if we weren’t carrying it at the time.

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I had previously heard there were Sudanese residents who were not able to queue for aid. I had looked for them on previous visits but hadn’t found them. The thought that people were prevented from getting the help they needed due to the hierarchy in the camp really played on my mind in between visits. This time I resolved to find them.

Hafsa asked another resident to help Matteo and I locate them. When we arrived at the tiny Sudanese encampment there was only a single, solitary Sudanese man camping alone. All his friends had already had their ‘chance’. We gave him blankets, scarves, socks, hats, an extra sleeping bag, hot water bottle, wind up lights, a lot of food and water. We gave him plenty of warm supplies for himself and extra items to trade or sell, if needed.  I explained to him I had been in the Dunkirk camp before and each time I had looked for him. I explained that there are people in England who know about him and know about his awful treatment in the camp. I was relieved to finally meet him and let him know that people care. We’ve stayed in touch since then. He’s now safe and warm in the UK and being looked after by friends.

There were also some problems with the van that we bought the previous week for our friends in Dunkirk so we’ve sent the ladies the money to buy another one. They’ve seen one they like and arrangements are being made to buy it. With the money you all donated we’ll be able to buy them the van and pay for it to be taxed, insured and hopefully there’ll be a few weeks worth of petrol money too.

As mentioned, in a previous post we also used the donation money to pay for a caravan for Sofinee to use as a respite space for unaccompanied young people who were unwell on camp. This didn’t quite work out the way that Sofinee had hoped but the caravan is being put to very good use as onsite accommodation for long term volunteers who give up their time to cook over 1000 hot meals for residents every single day.

Claire from St Pauli London has also written a post about what we got up to on this trip *coming soon*

More info

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