Jane Grimshaw, Convenor of Hastings Supports Refugees
This autumn saw the return of the Hastings Supports Refugees food drive. The one in 2016 was fantastically successful, so it was decided to try again. On a wet Saturday we set up stall outside Debenhams as ever the people of Hastings were extremely generous and two vans set off after the event, one for the Hastings food bank and one destined for Calais.
We have also been busy spending the funds raised at Festival By The Lake. Having such a big injection of funds in one hit means we can offer some substantial support to organisations working directly in the field such as The Refugee Youth Service, Refugee Kitchen in Calais, Care 4 Calais and Refugee Biriyani and Bananas. It also means that when a crisis occurs, as they do with a saddening frequency we can offer help straight away. When the Women and Children’s Centre in Dunkirk suffered a devastating fire in their warehouse in late August we were able to send over £1000 to help them get restocked and enabling then to continue with their essential work. Again, at the end of 2018 we were able to respond to chronic conditions in Paris with a donation of £900 to Paris Refugee Ground Support which bought over 600 blankets.
Now we are well into a new year and plans are developing for the year ahead. We have just completed a collection and delivery of warm clothing for Calais as part of Care4Calais #Coats4Calais campaign.
Next up is a collection of hygiene items for Yemen, followed in April by the People’s Boutique, where the women and children of the Syrian Resettlement Program here in Hastings can attend our free boutique to choose new outfits, have makeovers and use our nail bar. This year we are hoping to expand the event to include even more people seeking asylum within the town. Our role supporting the SVRP and The Hastings & Rother Refugee Buddy Project continues with HSR regularly sourcing items to make the transition to life in the UK easier for our families.
We are planning other events to take us through the year, most importantly the Festival by the Lake on 23rd June at Ashburnham Place. This will be the third year of this event so make sure you save the date, 23rd June, as this year it is looking to be amazing. Work is also continuing on the Hands of Friendship Quilt which when finished will hopefully be displayed at Hastings Museum.
To keep up with what HSR are up to and collections we are running locally please check into our Facebook page.