From Leeds to Calais: Harehills dozen take crucial supplies to French refugees
The donations have been made and the vans loaded. All that is left now is for the ‘Harehills Refugee Aid team’ to embark on their 300-mile-plus journey to Calais to hand out their goods.
After over a month of appeals and cash donations, the group of 12 from Leeds set off on their aid mission at midnight on Monday 4th January, in their fully stocked convoy.
Expecting to arrive at the French border around 10am the next day, the local community has come together to back the campaign, with their latest fundraiser seeing 18 teams compete in a football tournament last month.
Amongst those making the journey south is Sajad Sajawal, and he said prior to setting off, that the whole team were ready.
“The time for collecting is over and everyone just wants to get on with loading up these vans and helping the refugees,” he said.
“We have had a great response from local businesses and residents in Harehills, and feel prepared to make whatever difference we can in the camps.”
Donations made to the group in recent weeks included food, drinks, toys, hygiene products and tents.
Meanwhile, around £10,000 was also raised through donations from businesses and individuals.
“The money will ensure we can deliver aid to as many people as possible when we get down to Calais,” Sajad added.
“The idea is to distribute what we have in the vans as soon as we get there and then hit the shops to go refill once again.
“This way we can help twice as many people on the ground and make sure the donations are going where they should be.”
Jia Rahman, another volunteer from Harehills Refugee Aid, praised the efforts of the whole community over the past month.
“We have had about four weeks to get all of this sorted and to see how much support we have received is really amazing,” he said. “It goes to show how much we can achieve by working together.”