Until the convoys return: Cambridgeshire charity finds new ways to help refugees in the pandemic

Author: Mirva Villa

This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.

Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group, otherwise known as CamCRAG, is a small Cambridgeshire-based charity that was established in response to the migrant crisis in 2015. A small number of people, eager to make a difference, started to travel across the English channel to the Calais refugee camp to help out local aid organisations in the area. The mission soon grew to regular convoys, driving volunteers and donations on Fridays down to France, and taking the group back on Sunday evenings.

This simplicity is the biggest strength of this small organisation. The short volunteer trips and fundraising efforts make volunteering more accessible. Thanks to this, CamCRAG’s volunteer base is among the most varied in the UK. Current volunteer members come from all walks of life, and are aged between 16 to 80. This diversity has been a strength in developing the charity’s various projects. Most importantly, the shared trips to Calais have allowed the volunteers to build friendships between each other, and a strong connection and commitment to the charity itself.

From the moment the volunteers pack themselves in shared cars, they are starting to develop a personal connection to the cause. “That’s where you turn people into long-term activists”, says CamCRAG Chair Elliot Harris.

The volunteers are driven to France and booked a space in a local youth hostel. On the location, the volunteers will assist the locally-based frontline organisations.


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