Gifts of shel­ter for refugees in France

‘I never had a char­i­ta­ble bone in my body un­til I saw what was go­ing on at the camp’

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Royal Recognition - By Jodie Nes­ling jnes­ling@thek­m­group.co.uk @jo­di­enes­ling

Dozens of life-sav­ing shel­ters were dis­trib­uted to refugees sleep­ing rough in France, thanks to the gen­eros­ity of a Can­ter­bury­based char­ity.

Vol­un­teers had gath­ered in Wincheap just days be­fore to pack­age the spe­cial tents.

It was the brain­child of Jun­gle Canopy, an or­gan­i­sa­tion which was ini­tially set up to sup­ply car­a­vans for use at the no­to­ri­ous Calais Jun­gle.

Af­ter the French gov­ern­ment dis­man­tled the camp a year ago, some 2,000 refugees were dis­placed with re­ports of po­lice slash­ing makeshift tents to dis­cour­age fur­ther set­tle­ments.

In re­sponse, the char­ity changed tack and put a call out on Face­book to help pack­age flex­i­ble tents known as ‘bashas’ to try and help those most vul­ner- able through the winter months.

Jun­gle Canopy founder Dave King ex­plained how he got in­volved: “I never had a char­i­ta­ble bone in my body un­til I saw what was go­ing on at the camp.

“I was tak­ing my daugh­ter to univer­sity in Paris and I stopped off there. What I saw was mind­blow­ing and I de­cided I had to do some­thing.

“There were un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren and peo­ple in the most des­per­ate of sit­u­a­tions.

“I met a woman from Afghanistan who was eight months preg­nant. She has been shot in the foot by the Tal­iban and the lead had still not been re­moved.”

Mr King, 53, has an army back­ground so the idea of us­ing the tents came quickly to him. The ‘tents’ are a wa­ter­proof can­vas sheet, of­ten used by the armed forces and in sur­vival sce­nar­ios be­cause it is light­weight.

His ap­peal on so­cial me­dia proved a suc­cess and 15 peo­ple gath­ered to help at a cen­tre in Wincheap.

Mr King said: “All the peo­ple who did it said they wanted to do it again. It’s fun as you meet peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds. It was a great at­mos­phere.”

Mr King de­liv­ered the bashas around Paris last Tues­day, help­ing scores of des­per­ate peo­ple.

He said: “It went very well in­deed. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the re­sponse.

“More than 60 peo­ple were ex­tremely grate­ful and stayed dry.”

To find out more about vol­un­teer­ing visit jun­gle­canopy.org.uk

Vol­un­teers help out for Jun­gle Canopy in Wincheap

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