Activists across Britain are organising in solidarity with refugees and migrants trapped in the cold by Britain’s border in northern France.
Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), Care 4 Calais (C4C) and Labour peer Alf Dubs are leading a winter appeal for Calais, culminating in a convoy delivering supplies this weekend.
A fundraising evening and concert last Saturday brought the total collected in Hackney, east London, to more than £2,000.
Sasha Simic of Hackney SUTR said, “This is not charity, it is solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”
Clare Moseley from C4C said, “A year on from the destruction of the ‘jungle’ refugee camp by the French state and things are much worse for the refugees in the area.
“Now the refugees are sleeping rough in the countryside around Calais and Dunkirk. I’m scared people will die of exposure”
The funds from Hackney included donations from trade union branches and collections in workplaces—£120 at a school and £100 at a hospital.
Collections at work play an important role because they help start discussions about the refugee crisis and its causes and solutions.
This can help undercut scapegoating and calls for immigration controls. Unison union members at Camden council in central London collected more than £500.
Phoebe Watkins told Socialist Worker, “There was a really good response, it got everyone talking.”
Celebrities including Joe Pasquale, Vanessa Redgrave and Hayley Tamaddon have donated their coats to the appeal.
So have politicians including Dubs, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
A fundraising meal in Birmingham raised £1,100. There were also fundraising evenings in Manchester, Nottingham and Newham, east London, and a “Curry for Calais” was planned in Waltham Forest, north east London, this Thursday.
SUTR activists in Leeds did a street collection in Santa Claus costumes.
The collection in Islington, north London, boosted by coverage in the local newspaper, raised £240. The money and supplies raised by the appeal can make a real difference, but it is not enough.
No one should have to live in the horrific conditions faced by refugees.
And their plight is a product of government policies designed to shut them out.
The appeal must be part of a movement to win the right to legal passage into Britain.
Join the send-off for the Calais solidarity convoy. Friday 8 December, 5pm, Downing Street, central London