Calais Day One

All photos courtesy of Chanelle Manton photography

Refugees. People like you and me,surviving in a world that has done them no justice. 

There is no better start to the New Year than to give up your time to help those in need. And in today's media the crises is refugees. A whole area of the world is fighting on the lines on politics, humans being killed left right and centre. No wonder to yourselves why they ran, they left to survive. And over 8,000 refugees escaped to Calais.

The Jungle, as it is more commonly known has closed, but this does never mean there isn't work to be done, there are people still waiting, waiting to begin their life, stuck in a purgatory of tents and donations. Just, sat in a limbo of life.

My good friend and I ventured off on the 2nd of January 2017 at 6pm to Calais, leaving from Brighton. We fundraised £500.00 for this project, so utilised the funds by taking cheap transport, which took over twelve hours. From Brighton to London Victoria we set off, after a four hour freezing break we took another coach to Dover, from Dover to Calais. Arriving at 7am, both cold, tired and hungry, we made our way to the hostel. Knowing we only had an hour to get ready before leaving the temptation to sleep in our beds after over 24 hours with no sleep was strong. However the temptation to volunteer was stronger, so downed the coffee and ventured back into the icy winds of Calais centre. 

The warehouse. 

Nearly 2 miles later we hit the warehouse, greeted by a sea of smiles, the co-ordinator introduced us to the crew. The turnover of staff at the warehouse is insane, volunteers from around the UK and France taking a few days to volunteer, making those who are here a week or longer; experts in the field. Two huge warehouses stood in front of us, gigantic in size it was filled to the brim with an organisation of donations. Signs everywhere with explanations, and a small table for coffee and food. After a quick briefing we set to work. Every volunteer, no matter how short a stay they were here for, are all so incredibly generous, kind and genuinely good people.

I started in the Dunkirk Distribution Centre, my main role being taking clothes from the hoppers for the refugees. Each refugee/ family had an order of what was needed, this varied from shoes and blankets to a specific top or baby outfit. It was clear from the start that this warehouse had many donations, but very few of use, the flimsy tops and thin jackets wasn't making any use when finding warm items in the freezing cold. It was interesting to see, that the order forms had preferences to them, for example, a mother really wanted a long jumper, preferably of a dark colour. It is truly admirable to see volunteers trying their hardest to fill these orders to the refugees' preferences, with the quote of, if we can make them happier with their favourite item of clothing, that will make all the difference to them without even realising it. And it was at that moment; I realised how important the work is that we do, we are helping these people sustain their lives as much as we physically can.
Lunch; rice, lentils, potatoes, we get fed what the refugees get-
delicious food from a great kitchen.

After a quick lunch of lentils and rice, I headed to the sorting centre. A section of the warehouse dedicated to sorting through the donations. We start with the bags of clothes, sort them into what is appropriate (no holes, clean, no offensive writing, not flimsy, etc) then into a section for men, women and children. What really fascinated me was seeing what people donated, a majority was useful items but usually incredibly large, but some people donated offensive tops (for example, 'There is always a War','Happy Camping' or 'Go Get 'Em ((With Uncle Sam on the front)) which just didn't comprehend with us, what is the point? What benefit do you have from donating a pair of pants stained with period, or a top abusing the refugees? Absurd. 
The inappropriate clothes line.

Each item of clothing then got seperated into size, item (socks, trouser, jumper) into various tubs. Anything we couldn't donate gets recycled and the money goes to the refugees, or donated to the charity shop in the other warehouse to be sold and donated to refugees. The tubs then get emptied to the hoppers for distribution. Anything that couldn't fit into hoppers went into the second warehouse as overflow, which was equally as organised and filled. 

There is a desperate need for small mens items, struggling to find joggers for men shouldn't be so difficult, however completely understandable for people if they don't know what is needed. 

My journey is barely over, and I cannot wait to get started at home, to help refugees and get my community together to also help.

With the first day over, exhausted and aching to the bone, awake after over 40 hours no sleep, we collapsed into bed, satisfied that we helped, but the ever growing disappointment that we can't do more. -Chanelle Manton Photography


  1. Unbelievable that people would donate so offensively! Apart from small men's joggers, what other articles are needed?

  2. I know its unbelievable. Small men joggers are in dire need, but so are small women joggers, in general small clothing, wellies are essential as well as waterproofs and warm clothing especially this time of the year. To find out more information about what is needed please check out the Help Refugee page at:


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