News & Our Stories
* 5 October: an evening hosted by HHfR at the Avenues Centre raised £372 in donations. We were delighted to have so many people attend to see our four speakers, Anne Bates, who works as a volunteer in Greece, Abid Pervez of Calais Refugee Aid, Bashir Siraj of Open Doors in Hull, and Gaida Dirar a former refugee now living in Hull. Their presentations were followed by amazing food made by two of our volunteers, Zaidee and Syeda.
* 18 October HHfR hosted another production of The Castaways by White Tree Theatre, at the Guildhall. Thank you so much to Charlotte Wood and Becky Thompson from the White Tree Theatre Company, and also to Councillor Pantilakis for working so hard to ensure that it happened, councillors Daren Hale, Nadine Fudge and Haraldo Herrera-Richmond for funding it for us, for the very helpful staff who opened the doors and looked after everyone, and Sarah and Jamie Akrill for filming. It was very well received by a good sized audience and raised £345 in donations.
* 10 November, we had a stall at the Vintage Fair organised by Dove House at the Church on the Way on Princes Avenue. Lots of fantastic stalls, music and cake.
* Most of October and November has been taken up with our winter appeal for donations for a convoy to Greece organised by Hope and Aid Direct. We have received huge amounts of clothes, toiletries and banana boxes to pack them in. The Church of Latter-Day Saints and students from St Mary's joined our regular volunteers in several packing sessions to get everything ready. Many of the sleeping bags collected from Leeds Music Festival went too. The truck is now on its way to Lesbos. A couple of our volunteers are also going to Calais later in the month, and will be taking as many donations as they can fit in their car.
* 1 December. Our next event is our Christmas fete, which this year is held in town, at Jubilee Church on King Edward Street. We would be very glad of any tombola prizes, our tombola stall is always very popular!
Our current drop off points are as follows:
Avenues Centre, HU5 4DA, Mon & Sat 10-12.
The Warren, HU1 3DR, Tues & Thurs 10-5, Wed 10-1, Fri 10-4.
Unison, HU1 2AG, Mon-Friday 9-4.
Ground, HU3 1YE, Tues 1-4 & 5-7, Thurs 2-7, Sat 12-5.
We are running an appeal for warm winter clothes at the moment, collecting for a convoy to Greece. All warm winter clothes in good condition, for men, women and children, are wanted, but we also are collecting food, blankets, sleeping bags, cooking pots and the like. See a more detailed list here. Drop off times are at the Avenues Centre Mon & Sat 10-12, and The Warren, HU1 3DR, Tues & Thurs 10-5, Weds 10-1, Fri 10-4.
In August we had another big 2nd hand and vintage sale at The Avenues Centre, raising ~£500, and also had a stall at the brilliant Ella Street Festival – almost totally selling out of cakes! It was a hot day, but a huge amount of fun. £300 of our profits were donated to Care4Calais for small men’s or boy’s jeans or joggers, which they are able to buy cheaply in bulk. Go to their website to donate directly.
Later in the month a large group of volunteers went to Leeds Music Festival - or rather, the aftermath of Leeds Festival - to rescue abandoned sleeping bags, tents, mats and wellies that would otherwise be bulldozed and sent to landfill. Team Hull had several hundred sleeping bags washed, returned and ready to go in no time, and many have already gone to Calais Refugee Aid and Raise the Roof Hull Homeless Project.
On the 20th September another fundraiser was held at Kardomah94, a fantastic restaurant and event venue that has been very supportive of HHfR the last few years. A night of music, comedy and spoken word hosted by Ian Winter and featuring Graham Graham Beck, Sun Kings, Carrie Martin, Casey Adams, Dez Allenby, Mike Watts.
Want to know what it’s like volunteering for refugees in Greece and Calais and what support there is in Hull for families who have settled in the city? Come to the Avenues Centre this Friday 5th October 7.00 pm. Following short presentations, there will be food provided, which has been cooked by some of our volunteers from Pakistan and the opportunity to have an informal discussion with Ann, who lives in Greece; Abid, who makes regular trips to Calais; and Bashir from Open Doors in Hull.The event is free, although donations are of course very welcome.
Lastly, our annual Christmas Fete will be held at The Jubilee Church in the City Centre this year, on 1st December. As usual we will have a Santa's Grotto, lots of stalls, and a tombola (donations of prizes needed!).
At the end of June we hosted a production of The Castaways at the Avenues Centre, a play by White Tree Theatre.
We can wholeheartedly recommend this amazing work and if you would like to bring the play to your area, please contact them via their website. After talking with some of the refugees who volunteer with us, White Tree Theatre is now developing a second play, which will hopefully be touring next year. We will certainly aim to bring it to Hull.
One very hot day in July was spent at the Ella Street Festival, a brilliant day out with sandpits, colour fights and cakes. We raised a total of £270, with thanks to Glitterati for donating the money they raised as well. We also stewarded the Centre for the Avenues Open Gardens and were able to talk to a few potential donors and volunteers.
Car boots at Walton Street are back on, now that Walton Street has reopened, but our next big event is the Rummage Sale on Sunday 5th August, 1-4pm. It was very successful in May, and this one will be bigger and better, with several additional stalls selling clothing, jewellery, ceramics and accessories, as well of course lots of delicious homemake cakes.
On 16 June we hosted The Big Share at the Avenues, inviting people to bring food to share, as part of Hull Refugee Week 2018, which continues until the 26th of June. It was a free event but we still raised £83 thanks to some generous donations, and also ate a lot of amazing food. Please have a look at the other events on this week:
On Saturday 23rd June we will also be having a stall at Engage for Change, a music festival celebrating community, hope and activism in Queens Gardens - 11am - 6pm. There will be music, art, debate, stalls, family activities and more.
During May we were very busy preparing for our first rummage sale at the Avenues Centre, which was extremely successful - we will be having another one in August with even more clothes,cakes and stalls so look out for that. The £500 we raised went straight to Refugee Community Kitchen.
Also in May was another of our popular music events at Kardomah94. It was tremendously successful, raising £700, with £300 going directly to Refugee's Refuge in Athens, who look after destitute people in Athens. We also donated £300 in May to Friends for English, who help refugees in Hull improve their English. Please contact them if you are interested in volunteering - no special skills needed!
Other fundraising activities, as well as our regular carboots, included £300 raised at a birthday party, with invitees asked to bring a plate of food and a donation instead of gifts. Please let us know if you'd like to host a fundraising event!
More donations have been sent off in June, leaving us looking again for more donations. We are particularly in need of more men's shoes, constantly in demand in Calais due to police stealing them from refugees and homeless people.
On the 16th of April a large car load of donations went to Calais Refugee Aid in Huddersfield, and will shortly be going to Calais. We stuffed in most of the donations we had packed into our storage room -- which of course means now we need more donations to refill it.
Care4Calais are really struggling to meet the need in Calais, especially for sleeping bags, as the winter has been so cold and the police have been destroying the possessions of refugees and leaving them with nothing. If you have any donations please contact us, we are happy to collect. As always sleeping bags, tents and mens boots, socks and small/medium clothes are in the shortest supply. You can also buy sleeping bags to be delivered directly to a refugee in need, at leisurefayre.
Our fashion show on the 17th was hugely successful, thanks to Kathleen V., organiser in chief, as well as all our beautiful models, volunteers and attendees. We raised nearly £600 and sold a LOT of clothes (but somehow still had plenty to pack up at the end of the night).
Lots more photos in our facebook album.
We will be holding a rummage sale to sell the remaining clothes (and plenty of new finds) at the Avenues Centre on Sunday May 13th, from 1pm to 4 pm. Lots of bargains to be had.
We also had the first car boot of the year at Walton Street on the 21st, and raised £150 from selling unneeded donations.
Our next big fundraiser is on May 16th - another one of our music nights at Kardomah. Mr Manmohan Singh (songs from Afghanistan), Dog-finger Steve (bringing blues from the delta via Driffield) and of course your favourite ukulele band The Assembly Line (songs from everywhere) and finally ... the best acapella all male voices in East Yorkshire, Answers on a Postcard. It starts at 7pm and tickets will be £7.50. Our last event was a sell out so get your tickets early!
* We have a new premises at last thanks to the Goodwin Trust! We are now settling into the Avenues Community Centre, Park Avenue, HU5 4DA and sorting regularly again, so more donations would be very welcome! Pick ups can be arranged, or they can be dropped off during our sorting times. As usual, small & medium men's clothes and boots are most in need, as well as sleeping bags and camping equipment, food, toiletries, etc, but we can make use of most everything by selling unneeded items at our car boots (which will be starting up again soon). Our new sorting times are Monday 9.30 - 11.30 am, Saturday 10 am - 12 pm, and Thursday evenings 6.30 - 8.30 pm. If you haven't been before do let us know you are coming - we don't have signs up yet and the doors are usually locked at present. We hope to be sending off donations regularly, as we have less space to store things now (though it is much warmer than Kingston!!)
* Volunteers Juliet and John went to Calais again in February to work with “Auberge Des Migrants”. Juliet has written a report of their stay.
* On Tuesday April 17th we are holding a fashion show to raise money. The show starts at 7pm, at Jubilee Church Hall, 62 Edward Street. Tickets are a mere £2 on the door, and there will be refreshments available.
(Juliet's previous trip in November 2017 is written up here.)
So John and I have just returned from working at the “Auberge Des Migrants” warehouse in Calais. John did some heroic shoe sorting while I donned kitchen togs and entered the Refugee Community Kitchen, to embark on some very physical but extremely rewarding kitchen prep, mammoth washing up sessions, and, due to van complications, driving the van up to distributions in Dunkerque . Going on distributions meant ten hour days due to having to load all the food in and out of the van twice, plus putting the empties back in the van, driving back and unloading them, sorting and labelling and storing the leftovers etc etc. One distribution takes place daily in the car park of a nature reserve, where some of the guys are sleeping in the woods, and the second daily distribution takes place at a winter shelter which is an old leisure centre. There are families sleeping in the gym hall, and the men and teenage boys are in a separate part of the building.
The distributions were photo-free zones, which I totally agree with. Both days I went, the atmosphere was calm and friendly. The weather was quite drainingly cold due to a biting icy wind. But the sun was shining. Some of the men were having a kick about on the first day, and there was an improvised cricket match going on the second day. A cardboard box for a wicket, and a broken ball. There was a MSF van giving first aid, and another NGO with generators, charging peoples phones. Many of the men and boys had injured wrists, presumably from their attempts to get to the UK via the backs of lorries. A dangerous business. And it brought it home to me that the UK has a shameful record of having an utterly closed border. This has been proved to deter people not one tiny bit! It just endangers their lives by forcing them to resort to dangerous methods. Too many people have died trying to get to the UK this way.
It was a real privilege to be able to cook for people. Its such a “painting by numbers” form of showing people support. You chop stuff (LOTS of stuff), someone clever turns it into vast vats of hot deliciousness, then you give it to someone who, within seconds, gets warm and fed. Being on distribution also allowed me a bit of interaction with the people we had come to help and show solidarity with. So nice to joke around with people, and to find huge vats of rice etc lifted from my arms by guys just eager to help.
At the leisure centre, the kids were lively and cheeky. They thought a massive tub of sumac was just fantastic! Best. Treat. Ever! There seemed to be a lot of humour and care and tenderness between people. Some of those children were unaccompanied. On the face of it, it did seem like people were looking out for them. There was one teenie tiny boy. Perhaps he was two years old. Different people were amusing him, comforting him when he cried, steering him back into the relative safety of the family area. His story is worth sharing. Two families of 6 were making a break for it via the lorries. The youngest in each family was a two year old boy. One of the families made it to the UK and the other one didn’t. In the rush, the two little boys ended up swapped by accident........ this little feller was left behind. So there is a family in the UK with the wrong boy. And of course, the mirror image family situation in Dunkerque. That made me pause a bit....
The heavy lifting and extremely clunky gear-changing started some tennis elbow type pain off in my left arm so I bowed out on day three and did some gentle jumper sorting instead. We got through quite a lot! Mostly by sending vast loads of unsuitable stuff to various other places. The needs in northern France are highly specific. So there’s a sense of panning for gold! The utter joy of coming across more than one small or medium, dark coloured, remotely stylish warm jacket from amongst bags and bags of donations. And that is the other advantage of meeting the guys face to face. You get much more of a feel of what is and isn’t suitable stuff to be sending.
I would strongly urge anybody who takes part in donating and sorting in the UK to get themselves if they possibly can to northern France. It is a sobering experience. But, especially if you can hook up with an organisation that takes you out on distribution, you will come back much more aware of the situation on the ground.
Things have been a bit quiet over the holidays, as usual, but some exciting news for January:
1. Kingston House is now closed, as it has been sold. Thank you to Hull City Council for allowing us this building for the last two years. We are hoping to have a new place soon, but in the meantime donations can still be left at the Unison building on Alfred Gelder Street and our other drop off points.
2. We are finally a registered charity! Thanks so much to Leonne for organising this.
3. A public meeting has been organised for 7pm on 6 February, at the Unison building, to discuss our work and future plans. All are welcome!
4. Please note that despite not having the wonderful storage at Kingston, we are continuing to collect and sort donations. Another vanload of gloves, socks, trainers and men’s clothes were delivered to Calais Refugee Aid in Huddersfield ready for a trip to Calais on Friday 19th Jan.
After Juliet, John and Hamoude returned from Calais, Hull Daily Mail published an article about their trip and our ongoing need for donations.
In late November David Gautier and Lynne Petersen once again worked hard to present another music bonanza, where we raised over £700. Thanks to Kardomah97 for hosting it and thanks to the amazing musicians who gave their time, Brian Williams, the Rebecca Robyns jazz trio, Answers on a Postcard and The Assembly Line.
On 2nd December we held our annual Xmas fair at Unison, which raised over £800, with a Santa's Grotto and stalls.
The funds raised from these events has already been spent to help to fund a container sent by Care UK. An emergency appeal was also made for items for women and children living in refugee camps on the Greek island of Lesbos, and the collected donations, including strollers, warm clothes and shoes, and hygiene products, went to Manchester on the 15th, and shortly thereafter to Greece. Thanks so much to everyone who donated.
Juliet, John and Hamoude went to Calais in November to volunteer with Help Refugees and take donations of socks, sleeping bags and blankets from Hull. Here is Juliet's report:
Three volunteers from Hull Help for Refugees are pitching in at the Help Refugees warehouse here in Calais. Many, many jackets have been sorted! Many, many blankets have been folded! The weather here is getting grim. Just normal for the time of year but the refugees are having to "dormer dehors" (sleep outside). It's wet. It's windy. It's cold.
The set-up is a mixture of small grass-roots organisations collaborating massive efforts. There are a number of projects operating from the site. One of them is the Refugee Community Kitchen, who are having to build a fully fitted commercial kitchen to cook 2000 meals a day to distribute to the young people sleeping rough in ditches, under hedges, in woods, in sewers etc.
The volunteers took £300 of the money raised by the Hull group at car boot sales and Fruit market stalls and have contributed this to the building fund. You can see the receipt below. So thankyou to all Hull volunteers manning stalls, sorting donations to sell, getting up at crack of dawn on a Sunday etc! Your efforts are appreciated so much. Here is the evidence again that what we do is really worth while.
The car we came in was STUFFED to the brim with sleeping bags and blankets. These are distributed to the refugees very regularly. There is a constant need as the police here keep taking the bedding off people and spraying it (and the people using it) with CS gas, despite the fact that this is illegal. Impossible to get out of the blankets. The refugees are forced to discard them. For the authorities to pick the blankets up they have to have teams wearing specialist protective equipment. That's what CS gas does to a blanket, never mind a human being...... So blankets and sleeping bags were a VERY good thing to be collected in Hull.
Socks are essential. The refugees have trench foot and secondary infections of the feet. These can be fatal. Their feet are wet. All. The. Time. So they go through socks very quickly.
I would definitely encourage anyone who has thought they might one day go to Calais to volunteer, to go for it. The warehouse and kitchen are incredibly friendly places and the work is just like the sorting we do in Hull on a Wednesday night. But on quite a bit of a larger scale of course! There is no minimum time commitment.
In November, regular volunteers Juliet, John and Hamoude went to Calais to deliver a stuffed car full of donations, including sleeping bags, socks and some of the 270 blankets donated recently by Church of the Latter Day Saints. They volunteered while they were there with Help Refugees. Please see Juliet's report. Things are still very bad for the hundreds of refugees in Calais, with many suffering trenchfoot and other health problems because they are unable to keep dry. There are many reports of the police illegally stealing and destroying bedding and sleeping bags, leaving a constant need for more bedding. Donations of socks and boots are also much needed. Clothes Factor on Newland Avenue has generously offered to sell socks and boots at cost for this appeal, and you can leave them there to be collected. We will be sending another load of donations in December.
Upcoming fundraising events: Our 3rd Musical Bonaza at Kardomah94! Tuesday 28th November at 7pm, tickets are £6. Acts are Brian Williams, Rebecca Robyns, Assembly Line and Answers on a Postcard. Get your tickets before it sells out! Anyone bringing a donation of socks or boots (in good conditions only!) will get a free strip of raffle tickets. Also not to be missed is our annual Christmas Fair at Unison building on Alfred Gelder St. Santa's Grotto, cakes, stalls, and children's arts & crafts. Saturday 2nd December at 11am. Donations of cakes and tombola prizes gratefully recieved as always.
In August we offered impromptu refreshments and stalls at the Unison building alongside the Collective Youth Festival held in Queens Gardens, and made £220 - with a lot of help from some of our younger volunteers who took boxes of cakes out to sell directly to festival goers. Thanks once again to Unison Hull for letting us use their building.
Later in August volunteers went to Leeds Music Festival to collect discarded sleeping bags and mats, tents, chairs and boots. They returned with several hundred sleeping bags. Most of these have already been washed, returned and sent off with Abid Pervez along with boxes of clothes and other donations, to be distributed in Calais and elsewhere. Items like these are badly needed as the weather is already getting very cold. Reports from Calais are that the police are regularly taking sleeping bags and blankets away from refugees.
Another van load of donations was sent off, thanks again to Abid Pervez. Lots of food in this one! Thanks to all our donators, sorters, packers and loaders.
Marjorie Brabazon held a garden party, which, despite the traditional English Summer Rain, was a lovely afternoon and raised £213.
The Ellesmere Centre for Psychotherapy, Counselling and Training held a charity ball and raised £1,250.00, which will be shared with From Syria With Love. FSWL raise funds by selling art done by Syrian children to help and support people who have been effected by the conflict. In the photo is a print of one of these pictures that Hull Help for Refugees is pleased to present to the wonderful people at the Ellesmere Centre. FSWL also have a brilliant book and a CD which are available from HHfR.
Big thank you to a team from Hull West and Hessle quiz night for donating us their winnings!
And our usual fundraising efforts have continued, with two carboots this month, as well as a stall at the Humber Street Market - every third Sunday, in and around Fruit!
The Collective Youth Festival will be held on Queens Gardens on 19th August from 1pm. UNISON Hull City Branch is supporting the event, and HHfR will be holding a fete in the Unison building on Alfred Gelder Street, with stalls and refreshments. Donations for the cake stall will be very welcome!
*Welcome to English CIC is running and planning projects to help refugees and immigrants in Hull improve their English. Friends for English is their first project, a volunteer befriending scheme to help newcomers to Hull practice English and make new friends. It runs Tuesday 6.30 - pm and Wednesday 1.30 - 3 pm. No experience necessary! Keep an eye on their facebook for additional times or changes, and forthcoming projects. They are also gauging interest in a five week course TESOL course, to help train people to teach English. Please let Karen know if you are interested.
HHrR is working with Abid Pervez and the Calais Refugee Aid Team to get many much-needed supplies to Calais and Greece. A van-load of food and other supplies is shortly to go to Abid to be distributed wherever it is most needed. Thanks to everyone who donated to this appeal, especially the Church of Latter Day Saints who brought three car loads full and stayed to help sort and pack it! We will be sending lots of oil, milk, rice, salt, tinned veg and pulses, and other needed items such as nappies, sleeping bags and medical supplies.
We have also made up gift bags for individual children and are sending boxes of toys and art & craft stuff for them, for their end of Eid celebrations.
The need to provide good nutritious meals and sleeping equipment to displaced people is always present here in Hull and on the continent so we are always accepting donations for these sorts of items.
As I write this, our regular volunteer Juliet Molteno is cycling to Athens to raise money for Khora, a co-operative made up of volunteers from all over the world, including the local Greek community, the refugee community and other international volunteers. Their community centre in Athens provides not only basic needs such as free nutritious food, warm clothing and access to dental care, but also social needs such as education, child care, access to information and a safe space to build relationships and relax. So far she has raised over £1200, but donations are still being accepted! We're very proud of Juliet and her Thighs of Steel.
On Wednesday 28th, journalist and writer Shaista Aziz gave a talk at Truth Juice to raise money for HHfR. Thank you so much to Shaista and the organisrs for a wonderful and inspiring evening. "If we do not feel rage at what is going on in the world, then there is something wrong."
And coming up in July, on Sunday the 23rd, is a garden party hosted by Majorie Brabazon! Contact us for tickets - or if you have an idea for a fundraising event of your own!
May has been a very busy month for HHfR!
On the 7th, we were at Pickering Road Orchard with our stall and tombola for a May Day event. May pole dancing, pattie throwing, cakes, and delicious apple juice pressed from the orchard itself!
On the 12th Harvey, Lewis and Elliott did a sponsored swim at East Hull Baths, who donated a swimming lane for the boys. Between them they did over three miles.
On the 17th, our second annual music extravaganza at Kardomah97 went brilliantly, as five amazing local acts performed to a packed room to raise us over £630. And on the 19th, a Pie & Peas Quiz Night at the Clarendon was packed for another great night out.
On the 22nd we partnered with Abid Pervez, who took two van loads of donated clothes to send to people who have lost their homes and belongings through conflict and war. We were also able to give him some of the funds recently raised at aforementioned events, to enable him to buy much needed provisions for people in Calais.
Thank you to everyone who donated venues, raffle prizes, time and talent to help us raise funds! If you are interested in organising a fundraising event, please let us know.
On 29th March Dean Kirk held a wonderful afternoon tea to raise money for HHfR, at his historic house, Bowlalley House. Around sixty people attended, including the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, to eat cakes galore in one of the oldest houses in Hull. The event raised around £450.
And on April 1st we loaded another van of donations which was driven to Yorkshire Aid in Leeds. Yorkshire Aid will soon be taking the donations to Calais along with their own donations. Many of these donations were collected - and sorted! - by the Church of Latter Day Saints in Anlaby.
More details and photos, as well as news about upcoming events, will always be on our facebook page.
From Syria With Love is a UK based charity that raises funds and awareness for the refugee crisis. On Saturday 25th February 2017 they brought to Hull their exhibition of pictures drawn and painted by children from Syria. The founder and director Baraa Ehssan Kouja also gave a presentation showing the devastating results of the war on these children and how the charity From Syria With Love is working with them and for them. HHfR is hoping to arrange for FSWL to return to Hull and do further presentations at schools in the area later this year.
They have also produced a CD - copies of which may be available from HHfR for £10 at our next FRUIT market - and a beautiful and moving book, which contains many of the pictures in the exhibition and poems and stories by young people living in a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. It can be ordered through FSWL's website. HHfR will be using the book as a resource for awareness raising.
During the Christmas holidays I spent a week volunteering at the Help Refugees warehouse in Thessaloniki, Greece. Before going I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d volunteered in Calais in the summer and seen the horrific conditions there (help is still needed in Calais – see here), but the situation in Greece was utterly shocking.
Well, the simple answer is that I guess we fit the following criteria:
- They understand that they have a lifetime of skills, knowledge and experience that they bring to HHfR which enables them to offer their own unique input to the group.