News round up

It’s been a busy March so far for the RefugeeAid-Stroud team and supporters…

The new pop up shop – Rasmachaz – is open for business and doing well. Over £800 was raised on the first day of  opening and there’s been a steady stream of customers, some lovely donations and many compliments on the friendly atmosphere. We also have an info hub in store where you see updates on how our funds are raised and spent or you can chat to the shop staff about our work and that of our grassroots partners working directly with refugees in Europe.

Speaking of which…we have recently sent a total of £2980 directly to a volunteer group with Stroud connections, currently working hard to feed and assist refugees stuck at Idomeni on the Greece/Macedonia border. There are over 12,000 refugees stuck there in horrendous conditions as the border is closed and routes north out of Greece are impeded. The team are working round the clock to provide meals and any assistance they can and we are very pleased to be able to part finance their work – an example of grassroots to grassroots support, no wages/admin/overheads, just ordinary volunteer citizens helping each other to help others.

We are also in the process of sending funds to some of the volunteer organisations on the ground in Calais/Dunkirk to help fund new communal kitchens at Dunkirk and buy items for refugees displaced by the Calais ‘Jungle’ eviction. We also paid for a load of all weather sleeping bags to be delivered straight to the Calais distribution warehouse and, this weekend, some of our team will be heading over to Calais to continue an art therapy project with the vulnerable young people (many without parents/guardians) in what remains of the main camp who are now very traumatised by the upheaval and insecurity of the heavy handed eviction by the French authorities. In addition, one of our team will be visiting the new Dunkirk camp to deliver school supplies (very kindly donated by local schools) and other items, as well as assessing the situation and current needs for future funding.

Our other areas of concern are the Greek islands and Syria and we’re making plans to send a donation to projects on Lesvos including The Hope Centre, set up to offer a “safe warm space offering dignified support for refugees arriving in Lesvos”. We’ve also recently paid for a tonne of bread flour going straight to a bread factory in Syria and are now working on sending a 40ft container of aid there too, working with local Gloucestershire groups to fill the container with food aid, with shipping costs paid by the charity, One Nation.

All of this is only possible due to the kindness, concern and generosity of local people. The recent art auction organised by SVA raised a phenomenal £10,000 plus! Other local fundraising events, pop up shop takings and regular monthly standing orders to our bank account allow us to continue this vital work, sending funds rapidly to where they’re needed, purchasing items of aid in speedy response to urgent appeals and generally moving fast! Please check our Facebook page (now public) for current news and appeals or, if you would like to be included on our mailing list please email refugeeaidstroud@gmail.com with subject heading ‘add to mailing list’ for monthly news round up.