Coxhoe Scouts aid refugees in Calais
United Kingdom – Members of a Scout group from Coxhoe, a village in Durham County, are stunned that their simple act of kindness has garnered the kindness and generosity of the local community.
All they did was organise a call for contributions in aid of refugees in Calais, France. And, the local community responded with a phenomenal display of solidarity, showing that there is still much humanity left in the world.
Assistant Cub Scout leader, Alison McManus, shared how it all started in her interview with the BBC UK Radio on 8 September 2015: “Two weeks ago, I was on holiday, and we (she and her family) went to the Anne Frank House. And whilst we were there – it’s such a powerful place to be – thinking about her story, thinking about her as a little girl and as a real person, and then looking at the images and the news, thinking – those are real people too. They are really struggling, they’re in desperate situations.
"And as a Scout, when you think about camping, at the best of times that’s a challenge but in those kinds of conditions and running for your life, you know we really felt we had to do something as a family and as a Scout group we kind of got behind it, and it’s grown tremendously from there.”
The Coxhoe Scout Group initially expected to receive a small number of donated items, which they were planning to send to the sorting depot, but the response grew at a surprising rate. The call for donations of 60 determined Coxhoe Scouts was so successful that the village hall was completely filled with donated items like toiletry kits that the Cubs had packed themselves, shoes, clothes, tents, food and other essential items. They even had to call a local priest, Father John Bell, to request for extra storage space at the church, a request he gladly obliged.
“The response was overwhelming, it was such a positive experience,” Alison enthused.
The donations have been delivered to the Northeast Solidarity with Calais Refugees, a group that collects donations for the refugees in Calais.
Over 5000 people from war-torn countries in the Middle East are now taking refuge in a “jungle” camp in Calais, a northern port town in France. Over a hundred refugees arrive in Calais daily, desperate for a future free from fear and danger.
“The British and French governments are coming under increasing pressure to deal with the migrant crisis in Calais from where large numbers of people have tried to enter via the Channel Tunnel in an attempt to get to the UK,” BBC reported.
The harrowing photos and the upsetting news of this humanitarian crisis have moved the hearts of ordinary locals who have decided to reach out and extend a helping hand. Scouts Messengers of Peace are on the frontlines of this mission, but anyone can contribute.
Listen to Alison’s full six-minute radio interview and be inspired by her, along with the Coxhoe Scout Group’s energy and enthusiasm to help make a positive difference in the lives of the refugees.
Click on this link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p030rwbb) and fast forward to 01:10.
By Eul Bryan De Gracia
Photo credit: Sarah Caldecott