Third years sacrificing Christmas presents to help refugees in Calais

Santa’s giving them a ferry fare this year

aid calais food help love refugee selly the tab brum water

Two undergrads are selflessly sacrificing their Christmas presents to travel to Calais and help Syrian refugees.

Third years Ciara Cohen-Ennis and Beatrice Updegraff are using their Christmas holiday to build shelters and distribute aid in the camps.

The English and Drama students have asked their parents for ferry fare and accommodation money instead of Christmas presents this year, so they can go over and help out.

Beatrice told The Tab why the pair have decided to take action now: “I’ve been so shocked about the crisis in the Middle East for the past year and a half, but I feel like just sitting back and saying how bad it is isn’t really enough anymore.

“Going at Christmas is important for me as it’s a time of year which I love – I eat masses, drink too much and laze around which is great.

“This year I want to do something both memorable and helpful with my time off.”

beatrice and ciara

Beatrice (left) and Ciara (right) want to offer an extra pair of hands in Calais

Ciara added: “We’re going at Christmas as it’s going to be a cold winter and the refugees desperately need warm clothes and shoes.

“Our parents have kindly agreed to support us with the cost of the ferry to Calais and our accommodation as our Christmas presents, so all the donations we raise will go directly to the refugees.”

Many refugees have had to travel from country to country by train and on foot. They have taken refuge in camps in Calais, unable to cross the Channel from France and enter into England.

The girls want to do their part to help refugees feel welcome in Europe.

Ciara said: “There are around 6,000 people living in the Calais Jungle, and the number keeps growing. We want to make them feel as welcome as possible and bring whatever we can.

“We’ll be working with the charity Calais Action, building shelters and distributing aid. There are lots of amazing groups already out there providing English classes, art therapy and medical care. We want to do all we can to help.”

bea and c

The girls know its going to be tough

They realise it won’t be a easy, and are prepared to be shocked by the living conditions.

Ciara told The Tab: “Even though I’ve seen some photos of the camp I think I will still be shocked with the living conditions when I arrive.

“It will definitely be upsetting but I think in some ways it will be uplifting too, to see the impact the charities and volunteers are having on the people in the camp.”

Beatrice added: “I think I’m definitely most daunted about the condition people will be in at the camp, both physically and psychologically.

“The reasons people have fled and the things they have been through both in their home country and on their journey to Calais will be very upsetting, and I’m prepared for it to be pretty harrowing.”

Ciara and Beatrice have set up a donation page, proving you don’t have to go to Calais to be able to make a difference.

Beatrice said: “As we’re limited with what we can bring with us we’ll be asking for money donations, no matter how small.

“We’ll be using the money to buy warm clothing and blankets for the people who have barely anything to keep them from freezing on what’s expected to be a really harsh winter.”

Ciara expressed how grateful the girls were for the support they’ve received so far: “We have already received so much support. Everyone has been extremely generous.”

If anyone would like to make a donation of any amount, they would be extremely grateful.