Aid from Portsmouth handed out to refugees in Calais

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AID donated in Portsmouth has been distributed to grateful refugees living in the infamous ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais.

And those who took it out to France have made a pledge – we will not stop helping these people who are living in desperation.

Aid from Portsmouth is unloaded at 'The Jungle', the refugee camp in Calais. Picture: Adam Gibson

Aid from Portsmouth is unloaded at 'The Jungle', the refugee camp in Calais. Picture: Adam Gibson

On Friday The News reported that a team from Al Burrito Albert Road had helped to collect vanloads of clothes, shoes and other supplies for refugees, after being moved by pictures of people fleeing war-torn countries, including that of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi, whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach.

The group left at 4am on Saturday morning, in a convoy of five vans, conveying the donations that had come in from scores of concerned families in Portsmouth.

More than £3,000 was given altogether as well as more resources to pack the convoy for their second trip next weekend.

Ahmed Adam, 27, who lives in the camp and did not want to reveal where he had come from, said the people were not living there out of choice and just wished to have a better life.

News reporter Sam Poole in the Jungle - the Calais refugee camp

News reporter Sam Poole in the Jungle - the Calais refugee camp

He said: ‘This camp is split into different areas based on where people are from.

‘Most have been here for three months and are really pleased with the support we get.’

Throughout the day, French locals, Polish vehicles and other British organisations entered The Jungle to help the needy.

Mr Adam, who invited The News into his shack, offering a hot drink and something to eat, added: ‘People here are one community but at the same time can be very divided as everyone has a personal goal.’

Another refugee, who asked to be anonymous, said: ‘I am so thankful for everything that has been given to us. Thanks to the food we have received we now are free of worry for a short time.’

Another refugee from Afghanistan, who didn’t wish to be named, says that if he joined his government the Taliban would kill him, and if he joined the Taliban, the government would be on his case.

The barbed-wire fence, which is miles long, stands above the camp with police officers overseeing the refugees continuously.

A road splits the camp and as cars and lorry drivers pass through, many seem to ignore what is beside them.

Yazen Atia, 28, of Southsea, was anxious and speechless as he drove into the camp.

Overcome by emotion, he said: ‘I think this is going to be an incredibly powerful experience.

‘None of us have any idea on what to expect as we have decided to support these refugees ourselves and not through an organisation.

‘We are so appreciative for everything everyone in Portsmouth has done to make this happen.

‘The fact that we are going to do something that will make a difference puts my mind at rest.’

The team have guaranteed their support will continue over the coming weeks and encourage anyone who is interested to join their journey.

Matt Sinden, 33, of Fratton, said the trip was the best thing he had ever experienced and was blown away by the reaction of the refugees.

He said: ‘I’m overwhelmed and can’t believe people are living like this in literally man made tents and shacks.

‘People need to do this supporting and shouldn’t be afraid to get their hands dirty.

‘Look at what everyone has done in 36 hours. Everything we see being given out is from Portsmouth and that is just amazing to see.’

Adam Gibson, 17, of Copnor, joined the team to video all the action. He said the experience has changed his perspective on life.

He says: ‘I think the fact people have to come here to live better lives just shows what their lives must have been like in their home country.

‘People in Portsmouth are giving the aid and seeing it being handed out and the reactions that come with it is incredible.’

A small number played football with the team and hundreds more walked away with smiling faces and appreciation for all they had received.