Groups from Swindon are joining a national convoy of vehicles taking donations and solidarity to the refugees at Calais and Dunkirk on 18 June.
The convoy has been organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Stop the War Coalition, Stand up to Racism, Unite the Union, Communications Workers Union, TSSA, War on Want, Momentum & Muslim Association of Britain, ASLEF, FBU, Humanitas, and UNISON.
Members of Swindon People’s Assembly, Swindon TUC, Into Great Project, Swindon Calais Solidarity and Swindon Chippenham Aid to Calais have been sorting, washing and bagging clothes and badgering friends for donations.
Secretary of the Swindon TUC Jon Timbrell said: “Trade Unions have a proud history of standing shoulder to shoulder with victims of poverty, injustice and violence. That is why Swindon TUC are proud to support the convoy to Calais, delivering much needed aid and solidarity to people forced to live in precarious and dangerous conditions simply for seeking the basic rights and safety that many take for granted.
“In an age where the gap between rich and poor grows wider every day and the government unleashes increasingly damaging attacks on our jobs and services, we welcome refugees and reject the racism and scaremongering that blames them for inequality and injustice caused by the rich and politicians.”
The convoy starts at Westminster where a send-off rally is being held. There is a second rally in Dover for those who aren’t continuing on to Calais, followed by a show of solidarity with the refugees in Calais itself.
Kate Linnegar of Swindon’s People Assembly said: “Refugees continue to drown trying to get to safety. Many people are living in inhumane and appalling conditions. This government doesn’t seem to care. We have been in contact with the charities working at the camps. There was a big fire recently so tents and sleeping bags are in short supply along with food which is scarce.
“We will be taking much needed supplies and a show of solidarity. At our conference we passed a motion part of which stated that we oppose all attempts to blame refugees and migrants for the crisis in the NHS, low pay, bad housing, the lack of good jobs or any of the other problems we face and to welcome refugees and immigrants here, and to call on the government to open the borders to refugees and migrants from Calais and elsewhere.
“If people want to help there are various ways. We DO NOT need any more clothes. We DO need tents, sleeping bags and donations of money to pay travel costs and for food. The donation link is here https://gogetfunding.com/swindon-convoy-to-calais/
“We also need more drivers with cars to join us. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01793 522824.”