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’
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