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BERKO ROCKS 2016
On November 10th 2016 at a packed Civic Centre, Berko rocked.
Our fund-raising celebration of local talent brought together young performers plus local musicians young and mature.
A lot of the material was original, and ranged from pure traditional folk to gutsy electric guitar to indie pop or grunge, plus classical guitar from Don Perera.
Headlining were Hidden Jules from St Albans. We’re very grateful to them and to Anna Lou, Judith Perera and Pat Alliati, Ky Wilkinson and Georgie L Robinson. No one was left in any doubt that Berkhamsted has talent.
Throughout the night we saw the kind of images that drove a few mums to begin People not Borders, and by the end of the show we had raised over £1300 to spend mainly on medical equipment for Syrian hospitals.
FEBRUARY FREEZE 2017
When the two French refugee camps existed, we volunteered there as well as sending out supplies of various kinds, including over 200 care packs for adults in Dunkirk just before it closed. Then early in 2017 we saw what was happening on the streets of Paris, where refugees were sleeping rough in freezing cold temperatures (and in some cases being hosed down or otherwise abused by police) and decided to provide a range of equipment to help them survive. But we were mindful that local people are homeless too.
The February Freeze was a sponsored sleep-out which took place outside Kings Road Church from 7pm on February 17 – 7am next morning. Supported by John Borton of HWSF, three of us began, in many cases using new equipment we would then send out to France or Greece. Lisa didn’t do layers because she wanted her experience to be closer to that of a refugee who couldn’t add them. And that experience was bitterly cold. Although heartened by support from passers-by and to be joined by friends with sleeping bags, they didn’t sleep much. Lisa managed twenty minutes; John ached all night. But over a hot breakfast, generously provided by Paul Rozelaar at The Berkeley, we found that we had raised around £2,000 – to be split 50/50 with DENS. Those of us who didn’t brave the cold were enormously proud of the heroes who did, and we are very grateful to everyone who helped us raise so much money to make sleeping out for those who do it every night less cold and less bruising.
BAGS OF LOVE
UK Action for Refugees works closely with a Syrian doctor who sends harrowing reports from the ground – and below it.
In the autumn of 2016 he expressed a desire to give children who arrived in hospital in Aleppo and other war-torn cities some kind of comfort. So the charity asked people to fill Bags of Love with a soft toy, a colouring pad and crayons plus sharpener, a ball or yoyo, some Halal sweets and, if possible, a picture drawn by one child for another.
We bought 400 tough, washable drawstring bags printed with Bags of Love in Arabic, and set about encouraging the people of Berkhamsted to fill them.
Supporter Natalie Bear organised a bag filling enterprise at Greenway School. Some of the town’s churches did us proud – so much so that we took a chance and ordered 250 more.
When our Sunday collection came round, with a production line of mums, dads and lots of children, we were thankful to the ladies who had given us beautiful home-made bags which enabled us to send over 700 to Syria – via High Wycombe Helping Others, who connect with UK Action for Refugees – before Christmas.
Ours, from People not Borders, were just one pile in a mountain, because all over the country families, schools and Brownies were bagging up with love. We knew hospitals were being destroyed and when people asked us, “Will they get there? Will there be any hospitals left in Aleppo?” we had to say we didn’t know.
Some weeks later we saw film of the Syrian doctor, whose idea had begun the project, showing a child in a hospital bed a Bag of Love. We don’t know what horrors she had survived – and we know they continue now – but we saw her face.
There have been almost twenty monthly collections as of April 2017, with the first destined for Calais, and after that most of the donated goods taken by container to Greece, Syria or Turkey. For some time we worked with Move for Humanity, sending vanloads to their warehouse in Luton, but more recently we have linked with various groups including Yarl’s Wood Befrienders in this country as well as charities like Samara’s Aid.
We can no longer take anything and everything but are focusing on various appeals with lists of what is currently needed.
Our Baby Boxes are banama boxes filled with a complete kit for a baby according to the requirements listed by Samara's Aid. We didn't expect, when we began our appeal, to end up with 100!
Thank you to every individual who brought everything for a box, or just a few items. Many reported enjoying their shoppnig! We had the usual wonderful suppotr from local churches and playgroups, but we're also grateful to Tesco, Berkhamsted, and Mothercare in Watford, and to the teaching staff at Bishops Wood School, Tring, and at Berkhamsted Prep. Thanks to all this generosity, Flip had a very full house until our invaluable volunteer drive, Hamadi, had a very full van.
Trustee Katy has spent the last couple of months volunteering at a Refugee Camp in Greece a year after she first went to help on Lesvos.
She kept in touch on WhatsApp and reported that the children, some of them small, had neither toys nor shoes, We transferred funds to her so that she was able to go out and buy crocs and toys, and when she took them to the children she was hugged and kissed.
REFUGEE WEEK 2017
POTTERY PAINTING AND AUCTION
At the end of Refugee Week we raised £596 at our auction at The Open Door and are very grateful to all those who painted, paid for a place for someone else to paint, and came along to bid or placed a bid online. It was a lovely experience. Thanks too to the Pottery Project.
REFUGEE WEEK IN SCHOOLS
We are very grateful to all the schools that have raised money this week, some with non uniform day and others by wearing red for refugees - staff, children and in many cases, parents too. it has also been lovely to visit some of these schools, to take assemblies and share with children how we try to help - and how they can play their part, perhaps by making up a Friendship Bag for a refugee child who has no home and no toys.
Thank you also to St Peters Church for raising money for People Not Borders at Peteride Fair at the end of Refugee Week.
We are thrilled to announce that in addition to paying for emergency shoes and socks for refugees in France, the money from Refugee Week enabled us to buy furniture and equipment for a new school being built on Lesvos by a NGO called Better Days.
Our trustee Katy had seen this project in action while volunteering there. The school is for refugee children on the island but also for local children, because of course integration and education are equally cital.
We hope, with your help, to continue to support this project in future.
If you would like to donate, please click on the paypal link below or send directly to our account ;
ref; Better Days
Dunkirk Womens Centre
We recently have been able to send some essential items to Dunkirk Women's Centre thanks to our friends with a van, Angus and Brian from Herts4Refugees who regularly get the ferry over.
We are funding a Christmas party organised by Yarl's Wood Befrienders for the women detailed there.
For the first time we have been able to pay half the cost of a container for Syria. We're glad to contribute financially because our friends at High Wycombe Helping Others, who are paying the other half, have often shipped donated goods we've collected here in Berkhamsted.
We've begun spending the profits from our fundraising book 'I am me'! Linking up with Safe Passage, we have paid for 20 welcome rucksacks full of reassuring and practical items for unaccompanied minors arriving in the UK - and thrown in twenty copies of our book.
'I AM ME' Prize Giving
Thanks to Sue Lacey from Together100 who came to our 'I am Me' Prize Giving on 31st January in the Greene Room at the Kings Arms and took these fantastic images. You can see Alf, Lord Dubs, who was our special guest and spoke so warmly and naturally about his life and work: as a Kindertransport refugee rescued by Sir Nicholas Winton and now a tireless campaigner for human rights for refugees. You can see poetry judge Caroline Smith and the adult poetry winner, Mai Black. Also with Lord Dubs are commended entrants Andrea Lambert and Louise Orton for their short stories. Most entrants could not attend because many are based abroad or, in the case of the adult short story winner Helen Victoria Anderson, 'up north'.
You can also see wonderful singer-songwriter Minnie Birch who sang for us her song, Sangatte, inspired by volunteering at 'The Jungle'. It can be downloaded in aid of Care4Calais. In our slide show we were glad to be able to use beautiful, haunting images by Abdulazez Dukhan. Thank you, Abdulazez.
Thank you to everyone who came along and helped us raise over £350 to split with Safe Passage, the charity which helps unaccompanied minors find safe, legal routes to the U.K. And get well soon, Trustee Katy Brookes-Duncan, who would have liked to be there.
WINNER: Mai Black with Asu Go Well
COMMENDED: Helen Goldsmith with We do not have nothing
Caroline Johnstone with As Luck Would Have It
There was no winner as so many entries exceeded the word limit.
COMMENDED: Poppy Harrison with Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Freya Kirk with The Refugee
Untitled by Neve Wilson
Short story competition
WINNER: Helen Victoria Anderson For the Record
Highly commended: Janet Maile with Going Home,
Magsie Hamilton Little with Pot of Gold,
Christina Collins with Who I Brought to Knit Club
WINNER: Raza Syed with On the Run
Highly commended: Louise Orton with Voyages across the sea
Gare Oyeye with I am me
This year our annual February Freeze needed to be moved to March!
After a very wet, miserable evening our brave PNB team and friends raised over £3,600!!!!!!
Here is how we have spent your generous donations.
1. £1,000 has paid for sleeping bags and tents for Paris, bought in France and delivered to those head-counted at 1901 souls on the street on the same night.
2. £990 has paid for sleeping bags and tents to be taken out by the remarkable Angus Clark on his next trip to Calais, along with waterproof jackets, sleeping equipment etc donated by you.
3. The remainder of the money was spent making up 500 food packs which Flip was able to take to Calais with the help of our wonderful friend Angus from Herts For Refugees. The food packs together with over 500 large bottles of water and over 500 pieces of fresh fruit were taken to Charlie who runs the incredible Mobile Refugee Support in Dunkirk. Charlie distributed the food packs on our behalf.
In May two of our trustees Flip and Cordelia self funded a trip to Lesvos.
With People Not Borders being part of the collaborative appeal Love4Lesvos it made sense to go and see the island for themselves and to witness the conditions and needs of the refugees on the island.
People Not Borders were supporting charities set up on Lesvos who provide life support on the island including food, clothing and friendship to all refugees.
Arriving on a Sunday they thought they wouldn't be doing very much as it was a Sunday but two boats had arrived on the island very early that morning and seeing how desperate they were for food and clothing (going through bins) the charity opened his doors and got as many volunteers as he could find to help them.
The volunteers refugees themselves living at one of the camps on the island and enjoy being part of this organisation. They were all incredibly hard working, welcoming and wonderful people.
Cordelia and Flip helped to register the 200 men giving them 'points' to be used at the free charity supermarket. They were also welcome to go through the rails and shelves to find suitable clothing, underwear and shoes, all of which were desperately needed after weeks/months of travelling.
On the second day it was 60 something families who were brought in, also given 'points' to use at the supermarket and they spent their time finding clothing and shoes for themselves and their children. (Flip enjoyed handed out bags of sweets to every child who arrived which they of course loved,as did all the volunteers).
It was a very emotional trip to the island not least because they saw first hand the terrible conditions and treatment the refugees face when they arrive but also getting to know the wonderful volunteers and hearing their heartbreaking stories of why and how they left their homes.
Flip and Cordelia were welcomed to join their evening meal the volunteers made themselves and enjoy all together after a long day of helping others before they return back to the camp.
Since their return from Lesvos PNB have been able to send a further £1000 to support refugees on Lesvos together with many, many boxes of clothing and toiletries.
REFUGEE WEEK 2018
We would like to thank Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts, Open Door, Watford Museum, Berkhamsted Quakers and Berkhamsted Prep for supporting us this year. That means you, Ceri Lindo, Rosie, Rev. Jane Markby, Elizabeth Kopplin and Sheelagh Frew Crane.
Our two craft workshops for all ages generated 75 beautiful decorated boxes which we have filled with art materials generously donated by Jo Kidd at Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts. They are now ready to be shipped to the House For Humanity on Lesvos.
Artist Sheelagh Frew Crane’s short film called ‘Song of the Lark’, and conceptual sculpture ‘Boat on Dry Land’ drew attention at Watford Museum. Children and adults came to a workshop to decorate the boat with messages and symbols of peace and love. Then our Trustees Cordelia and Flip delivered a moving, fact-filled but personal presentation on the situation in Lesvos where they volunteered in May, with Flip including information on France. The audience were shocked to learn details the media won’t provide.
Our Syrian Supper was packed out and much enjoyed by all. All the food was cooked by Syrians, one of whom, Abelrahman, talked about life in Syria, his escape to the Lebanon and his happiness at coming to the U.K. Many said how moved they were; everyone considered themselves privileged to be able to gain an insight into one family’s experience.
In total we raised over £340 as we celebrated the contribution refugees make to Western culture and raised some awareness too.
DIGNITY PACK PROJECT
Thanks to our wonderful supporters who donated many items and also to Aylesbury High School who raised money for People Not Borders, we were able to make up over 250 Dignity Packs.
They have been sent to a fabulous organisation on Lesvos that support women and children on the island.
They have 10 showers and 10 washing machines, a large hospitality area, a children's corner and distribution centre where they give out aid in an effort to meet some of the most basic needs of their guests.
We will continue to support such a wonderful project.
In June Sue and Flip visited Calais to distribute Food Packs and other donations to Mobile Refugee Support.
We are big fans of this organisation who are providing life saving support to refugees in Calais and Dunkik.
Thanks to our wonderful supporters we have also been able to transfer £750 to MRS which was gratefully received and will go some way to keeping this operation up and running.
We have since raised a further £700 specifically for tents and sleeping bags.
Sue and Kate also attended a well organised festival salvage together with many other small refugee groups and an enormous number of tents and sleeping bags were saved and sent to MRS.
PNB have recently used donated money to supply MRS with rice, oil and UHT milk which will be distributed to the refugees in Dunkirk along with your donated clothing, toiletries and tents.
We are continuing our support of MRS. Please see our current appeal list for the most needed items on our Appeals page.
'I AM ME' - PEOPLES BOOK PRIZE
We are delighted that our picture book 'I am me' is a FINALIST in the People's Book Prize! This means that next year we'll be asking you to vote again as the awards ceremony approaches (sorry!) but we're so grateful for your support.
This is a book that not only raises funds to be spent on young refugees but helps children and their book-sharing adults to understand a little of what it means to be a refugee.
Click on our shop page or message to buy a copy!
Thank you to everyone who helped with this project during Refugee Week.
It was wonderful to receive photos of children on Lesvos receiving the art boxes decorated by lovely people in Berkhamsted and filled so generously by Berkhamsted Arts and Crafts.
BERKO ROCKS 2018
On November 14th 2018 at Ashlyns School, Berko rocked again.
This time we brought together a local folk family and an indie songstress, a guitar virtuoso who used to attend the school not so long ago, a South African musician once in a big anti-apartheid band and a soul singer with very real soul – along with acclaimed international star Ian Shaw who also compered through the show.
With the Devines, Minnie Birch, Don Perera, Erik Windrich, Beverley Wong and Ian Shaw we showcased a diverse line up of genuine talent. These humans performed because they care and we are very grateful. It was also moving to hear from young Syrian Tam about why he left home, his time in the Calais ‘Jungle’ and life in the U.K.
Throughout the night we showed images that told the story of People not Borders over three years and more. We raised £2,326 which was quickly spent on Dignity Packs for women and children on Lesvos, blankets for families there and keeping Mobile Refugee Support on the road (with aid) in Calais and Dunkirk.
MOBILE REFUGEE SUPPORT - VAN
Thanks to those who contributed to our 'van' appeal we have been able to help our friends at Mobile Refugee Support in Dunkirk purchase a new van, this will allow them to continue with their lifesaving distributions in and around Dunkirk.
Thanks to the very generous donation from Berkhamsted School we are able to support a new project on Samos by Refugees4Refugees who have rented warehouse space for distributing clothes, food and other aid, with washing machines etc.
The project will be run by volunteers who are refugees and have been helping on Lesvos where they have shown how useful they are, but obviously they can't pay their own expenses.
So that they can stay in Samos to do this important work over the next few weeks, we are covering these costs: their food, accommodation, electricity and heating.
So in effect we are keeping refugees warm, comfortable and fed so that they can spend their days helping other refugees.
In January we were able to fill a van with 50 banana boxes of Smiley Bags for children, and warm clothes too. Our trusty friend Brian from Chorleywood4Refugees has now driven them off on the first part of their journey. Thank you again for making this possible.
Delivering our blankets, backpacks and torches to Mobile Refugee Support. Whilst there we also bought juice, fruit and nuts to hand out at the afternoon distribution with MRS in Dunkirk.
We were also able to meet the girls from the new and exciting organisation Project Play. It was great to be able to hear more about them and their amazing project and to give them our boxes of colouring books and pencils.
People Not Borders decided to try to help Project Play further by returning a few months later with 100 white boards, white board pens and erasers so that they are now able to teach every day (not just Saturday) as they have enough supplies to go around.
After discussions with the incredible 'Paris Refugee Ground Support' we got to work straight away on their desperate need for 'soap and shave' packs. These will be given out to 1,000 boys and men living on the streets of Paris. We hope to continue to support PRGS in any way we can.
DIGNITY PACKS AND NAPPIES
We were able to make up another 170 Dignity Packs and these have been sent to Lesvos together with 4 boxes of nappies thanks to our friends and partners Angus and Brian.
Thanks to our successful 'Berko Unplugged' night we were able to purchase and make up 500 SNUG Packs, hat, scarf, gloves and socks. These were distributed by the hard working Paris Refugee Ground Support team.