Calais Food Collective

Calais Food Collective Emergency Appeal

Fundraising for ForRefugees
raised of £15,000 target
by 353 supporters

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RCN 1168435
We help our trusted grassroots partners to improve the lives of refugees in Europe


We are the Calais Food Collective. We provide food and water for displaced people across Northern France. Right now, we are operating in a food and water crisis and need support - urgently. 

Over the past few weeks, a huge media spotlight has been thrown onto people crossing the Channel in small boats to find safety in the United Kingdom. There has been almost no attention paid to the dire conditions people are forced to live in while in France. Since the intervention of the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in July, police brutality and outright state neglect in Calais has reached unprecedented levels. This has created significant food and water shortages for displaced people who have been evicted from camps with nowhere else to go.

We are a small grassroots emergency response team on the ground, providing daily food and water security in the form of dry food, emergency food packs and hot meal distribution. We support around 2,000 people and only expect this number to increase given the current political situation. We cannot continue responding to this crisis unless we raise immediate funds. Please consider making a donation. 


What your donation will buy:

£1 is 2 kg of onions - the base of a nutritious meal. 

£7 is 140 bin bags - enabling people to keep their living space clean. 

£20 is 44 cans of sardines - a source of protein which people can eat when they don’t have the means to cook.  

£50 is 1050 apples - An easy to distribute, nutritious item that can be eaten on the move. 

£100 is 378 Litres of water -  with limited access, water provision is essential - especially at the height of summer.   

For more information on our work and the current political situation, we invite you to read our detailed plea below: 

We asked for your support in April, when we set up Calais Food Collective, and now we are asking for it again. Our organisation was set up as an emergency response project to provide food for displaced people across Calais when there were few services operating due to Covid-19. This emergency is ongoing. 

We are an organisation operating under the umbrella of L’Auberge des Migrants. With their help, we were able to set up and establish ourselves quickly, soon becoming a service people not only relied upon, but one which people trusted and enjoyed. 

Initially, the sole remit of The Calais Food Collective was to distribute dry food and cooking equipment so that people could cook for themselves. Our project provided people with autonomy over the food that they eat, as well as giving them the freedom to cook for themselves or amongst friends.  We believe that cooking and eating communally brings communities together. In addition to the comfort cooking for yourself brings, the food that our service provides is varied, which means that everyone has access to a nutritionally balanced food source. 

Since April, we have provided and distributed enough food for over 170,000 meals supporting close to 2,000 people through daily distribution. The current populations in Calais and Dunkirk constantly change, so we regularly adapt our service to respond to the volatile nature of the context we work in. 

Our service first operated as a ‘freeshop’: people could choose which items they take, and how much. Each time we distribute, we take different items to make sure there is a variety. Our service is culturally sensitive, for instance, we supported those observing Ramadan and aim to distribute additional items during religious holidays and celebrations. We listen to the communities and what they request, trying to meet peoples’ needs to the best that our budget allows. 

We founded this service with the help of the Woodyard, whose distribution of firewood gave people the means to cook our food. We would not have been able to achieve anything that we have without their support and cooperation.

On the 10th July, our service, as well all of the other organisations working throughout Calais, encountered an obstacle which is refusing to shift. One of the biggest evictions since the violent dismantling of the vilified and renowned ‘Calais Jungle’ in 2016. The 10th July saw the three biggest sites across Calais evicted during a single morning. People were forced onto buses, belongings were seized and destroyed, and fences were installed. 

We responded in the best way that we could and spent the day searching for those still in Calais: needing food and support. After a few days of emergency responses, including cooking for over 1,000 in a makeshift kitchen and buying and distributing ready to eat items, a new camp formed. However, within 10 days this was also dismantled violently by police. 

Since then, Calais has dissolved into a crisis of mass street homelessness. People can’t settle, access food or sleep rough without incessant police harassment. 

Due to the constant cycle of evictions, the Woodyard have had to suspend their services for the rest of the summer. As there are few permanent camps and settlements remaining, people can no longer make fires. This is amplified by the fact that many are residing in the streets of the city centre: street homelessness has surged across the city of Calais. We have rapidly adapted and changed the way that we work - shifting from solely providing dry food to working with partners on the ground to ensure everyone can access food and water.  

The state has an obligation to provide food. They do this in Northern France through a service called La Vie Active. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19 they have not satisfactorily fulfilled this obligation and their services and access points have drastically reduced. The largest access point for food has been closed since the start of the evictions on 10th July and shows no sign of reopening. The Calais Food Collective believes that denying food violates basic human rights. Since the start of the eviction we have campaigned for this service to resume alongside The Human Rights Observers (HRO), our partners on the ground.  

Water security has also been denied to people in Calais since the recent series of evictions. There is currently one water point available; it is an hour and a half walk away from where some people are staying and is surveyed by police which is a deliberate intimidation tactic. We have testimonies from people saying that accessing water at these points is not a risk they are willing to take, as they know that contact with the police means inevitable harassment and violence. Jerry cans and water containers are scarce as many were seized during the evictions. There is water available at the state food distributions, but only for the forty minutes in which they are distributing and often this service is suspended early or cancelled with very little warning. Due to this, we have started distributing bottles of water; we have distributed 12,600 litres in the past two weeks. This is obviously a vast expense for us, but with 30 degree sun and no word from the state as to when they will adequately provide water there is very little option. In addition to distributing water, we are working with our partners Collective Aid to pursue legal action and pressure the local government to find a sustainable resolution. 

The situation in Northern France is volatile. We don’t know how it will change week-by-week. What we do know is that the hostile and violent policies of the French and British governments will not stop people from seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. These policies just make journeys more dangerous. We know that as a small, reactive and dynamic team we have the ability to respond to the situation as it changes. We have the responsibility to review and adapt the way we work to meet the current need. We are committed to ensuring that the people here receive the support and food security which right now is massively lacking. We are also committed to making visible the injustices perpetrated daily in Northern France. 

The British government is portraying people fleeing danger as criminals. Seeking safety is not a criminal act. Nobody should have to live in fear, without food or water. Please support us today. 

(All photos credited to and used with permission of Abdul Saboor)

About the charity


Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1168435
At forRefugees, we believe that people forced to flee their homes should be welcomed with dignity and kindness. We support refugees where big aid organisations and governments fail, providing food, shelter, legal aid, psychological support and more, so that people can begin to rebuild their lives.

Donation summary

Total raised
+ £1,722.75 Gift Aid
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