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Social Work students to lead aid convoy to Calais

Convoy to Calais Tuesday 29 September 2015

A team of more than twenty Liverpool Hope University Social Work students and their lecturers are to collect and deliver vital supplies to refugees in Calais. 

The students are organising a convoy of ten cars and vans full of clothes, toiletries, food and other supplies, which will travel to the refugee camps in Calais on 17th October.

They are being joined in their efforts by fellow Social Work students from the Universities of Chester and Liverpool John Moores, and members of SWAN (Social Work Action Network, of which Professor Michael Lavalette, Professor of Social Work at Liverpool Hope is Chair). They will then join up with other SWAN convoys from around the UK.

Between 3000-5000 refugees who have fled war, poverty and persecution in Syria, East Africa and Afghanistan are now in camps in Calais.

United Nations special representative on migration Peter Sutherland, who visited Calais this week, said on twitter that the camp is “an indictment of society that it exists.” He called for the media to continue highlighting the situation and demanded “immediate action” to help the refugees who now face disease and dangerous conditions.

As well as collecting supplies, the students from Liverpool Hope are raising funds to pay for the journey, which will cost around £300 per car.

They have set up a Just Giving page and will be accepting public donations of clothes and supplies at the university campus by arrangement, and will hold a Convoy to Calais fundraising night at the university’s Hope Park Campus on Thursday 8th October.

Jemma Herbert, who is studying for an MA in Social Work at Liverpool Hope University said: “As social work students, we want to act directly to improve the dignity and wellbeing of those in ‘the jungle.’” I am tired of watching our government react at a snail’s pace to the plight of those seeking refuge in Europe and the UK, and appalled to see that money is being spent on fences to keep people out, instead of helping them.”

Carol Derbyshire, a second year BA Social Work student said: "This convoy is a small token in a growing picture; it is the bare minimum that we felt as students we could offer. No human being should ever be treated in the way that these refugees are. From the make shift camp that is named "the jungle" to the extremes of Hungary building fences and policing with tear gas and water cannons. Europe should be ashamed of the lack of response to this humanitarian crisis."

Dr Joe Greener, Lecturer in Social Work at Liverpool Hope added: “We are really proud to announce that our students have mobilised themselves to take action for the refugees at Calais. They are organising a campaign to send desperately needed goods to the border camps and raise money for the NGOs working there. It is exhilarating to see students decide to take direct steps which could make a real difference to people who are desperately seeking a sanctuary.

In a statement on the refugee crisis, Professor Pillay (Vice‐Chancellor & Rector), Monsignor John Devine (Pro‐Chancellor & Chair of the University Council), Kira Cox (President of the Students' Union) and Professor Michael Lavalette, Head of the Department for Social Work, Care and Justice wrote: "Liverpool Hope University is pleased to join with those faith‐based and civil society organisations who proclaim that Britain is still a caring and compassionate country and who work to make this claim true in practical ways."

Read the full statement on the refugee crisis


How you can help:

1.    Donate clean clothes, shoes, bedding, sleeping bags, tents, toiletries to the convoy. Donations will be accepted on the Liverpool Hope University Hope Park Campus by arrangement only. Any women’s and children’s clothes and supplies received will be sent in a container to the Greek island of Samos, which is another major entry point to Europe for refugees. 

Please contact Rebecca Simpson Finlay on 0151 291 3652 or to organise your drop off.

2.    Come along to the Convoy to Calais fundraising night in Our Place Bar and Kitchen, Liverpool Hope University, Taggart Avenue L16 9JD on Thursday 8th October 2015, 7pm-midnight. Music, raffle, bingo and speakers. To buy tickets in advance (£3) contact Alex on 07415 140 724

3.    Visit the Just Giving Page to donate what you can.

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