Seeking Sanctuary: Emergency Appeal for Calais Migrants

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Dorothy Harte had drawn our attention to this appeal for the Calais migrants. Seeking Sanctuary is launching an emergency appeal for funds to relieve the immediate human suffering following the recent heavy rain and high winds in Northern France.
Our Gibraltar fraternity responded splendily last September to help Syrian refugees. If any fraternities or individuals are able to respond on this occasion please respond directly to Seeking Sanctuary – or to Calaid or Calais Action. On Facebook: see Calaid and Calais Action. On Twitter: go to @JoinCalAid and @calaisaction. Keep us informed by adding a comment to this post, or by mailing

With the torrential rain and wind, and now freezing weather predicted for January and February, conditions in the camp have worsened and are deteriorating still more. Tents cannot survive these conditions, especially as the ground (an old landfill site and swamp among sand dunes) is not suitable for firmly securing guy ropes. There are a group of volunteer builders doing a fantastic job of making more sturdy wooden structures to replace the tents, but ground sheets and tarpaulin are desperately needed to weatherproof these, as well as to try to patch up ripped tents. (In Dunkirk the conditions are reported to be even worse, and supplies even more limited – but work to move people to a new location is now scheduled to start any day.)

Despite the opening of 1500 dormitory places in modified containers at Calais, the French authorities have further exacerbated the problem there by announcing immediate measures to clear all tents and structures in a zone at least 100 metres wide alongside the motorway and neighbouring houses. Aid workers have less than three days in which to help at least 1000 men, women and children to move and rebuild their dwellings.

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Due to the rain, firewood is not an appropriate fuel source at the moment. Gas is in high demand and there is now a good system in the camp for re-filling gas cylinders. But it is expensive, with each cylinder costing £21 to re-fill and sustain a family or small community group tent for four weeks. Tarpaulins and groundsheets are needed to weatherproof new wood-framed shelters and to reinforce the most flimsy tents.

Finally, the Calais aid warehouses have totally run out of blankets, we would love to take them more thick warm blankets this month, to be available for new refugees arriving in the camp with nothing.

The Tunbridge Wells support group which has already made several trips will again be travelling to Calais on 27th January with 17 volunteers. They had already raised funds for essential supplies such as clothes and footwear. We want to help to raise an extra £5000, with which they want to buy large tarpaulin sheets, groundsheets, gas canister refills (each lasts a family or small group for 4 weeks as well as thick blankets. This will help at least 200 of the people most in need, particularly following the proposed clearance of tents away from the motorway.

If you can help us to raise this money please let us know and we will pass on their bank account details to you.

With thanks for all that you already do on behalf of these vulnerable people.

Ben and Phil.

About ‘Seeking Sanctuary’. There are currently some 6000 migrants in Calais (December 2015) and more nearby. ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ aims to raise awareness about this situation and is organising basic humanitarian assistance through Faith Communities and Community Organisations in partnership with experienced aid agencies such as ‘Secours Catholique’.
For further information on how you or your organisation can help, contact Ben Bano on 07887 651117 or Phil Kerton on 01474 873802. To check the latest news, visit our website.

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The National Seat written by our Vice Minister, Andrea

OFSGB National Office
The Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain now has a fixed national address
All Saints, Redclyffe Road, Urmston, Manchester M41 7LG.  Our office is in the former printing press building of The Greyfriars’ (St Maximillian Kolbe’s)  Crusade of Mary Immaculate and The Franciscan Mass Association.  The Greyfriars, The Order of Friars Minor Conventual of Great Britain & Ireland have made this redundant building in the grounds of All Saints Friary and Church available to our Order on an annual rental basis.  In taking up their offer we are fulfilling a requirement of the General Constitutions that all national councils must have a “National Seat” a fixed address for communication purposes.
There are two sizeable meeting rooms which can be used for national council and executive meetings and possibly formation days/days of reflection.  The space which is centrally heated and WiFi accessible also comprises an office, a small kitchen area equipped with kettle and microwave, a large walk-in room, formerly the photographic dark room, a useful storage area, and a toilet.  It is rather basic and a work-in-progress but we can make it our home. Paula has taken some regional archives for storage, thereby freeing up space in her home, much to the delight of her husband.  My husband will also be delighted when our spare room is emptied of archives from the midland region. Paula has driven up from Kent to spend time organising, one day for a meeting with the OFM.Conv. Custos, and a further two three-day stays, in December January, accompanied some of the time by our national secretary, Pam Thornton, Peter Bamford, north west regional minister, and myself.   It has been hard work especially for Paula but then nothing worthwhile is easy.  Our hope is that this centre will energise our sense of belonging not only to OFSGB but to the whole Franciscan family.  Pam will drive down from Liverpool once a week to deal with any post and admin.  Paula will also spend more time there this year.
This is a historic moment for OFSGB and if we can make it work financially it will give us a new national identity built on the many hours of dedicated time and effort over the years by members both living and dead.   A line incorporated in our national letter headed notepaper states OFSGB Building the Kingdom of God with Living Stones.  We are those living stones so let’s get to work!  Watch this space for developments.
Peace and All Good
Andrea ofs

OFSGB National Office



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