BERKO ROCKS 2016
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
The February Freeze was a sponsored sleep-out which took place outside 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.
Although heartened by support from passers-by and to be joined by friends with sleeping bags, they didn’t sleep much. 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.
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.
We continue to collect donations to send to Greece, France, Yemen, Turkey and Syria but now ensure we only ask for items that are specifically needed in these areas.
Our Baby Boxes are banana boxes filled with a complete kit for a baby in Syria according to the requirements listed by Samara's Aid. We didn't expect, when we began our appeal, to end up with 100 baby boxes!
Thank you to every individual who brought everything for a box, or just a few items. We had the usual wonderful support 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.
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.
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 while away 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.
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 vital.
We hope, with your help, to continue to support this project in future.
REFUGEE WEEK 2017
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.
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.
DUNKIRK WOMEN'S CENTRE
We recently have been able to send some essential items to Dunkirk Women's Centre.
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
Lord Alf Dubs 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.
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 were taken to Dunkirk, 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. The food packs together with over 500 large bottles of water and over 500 pieces of fresh fruit were distributed by Flip with Charlie who runs the incredible Mobile Refugee Support in Dunkirk.
BERKO ROCKS 2018
This year 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.
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.
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 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.
'I AM ME' - PEOPLES BOOK PRIZE
We are delighted that our picture book 'I am me' was a FINALIST in the People's Book Prize!
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!
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 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 June Sue and Flip visited Calais again 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 Dunkirk.
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.
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.
Another trip to Dunkirk to delivery 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.
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.
In total Flip made up 570 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.
We were able to club together with our friends SideBySideWithRefugees and Donate4Refugees to buy over 200 pairs of brand new waterproof boots. We took these to Dunkirk where the situation is dire and the boots are so desperately needed. Mobile Refugee Support will be handing these out on our behalf.
We had previously been able buy 50 pairs of new trainers for young men in Dunkirk.
Thanks to our successful 'Berko Unplugged' night we were able to purchase and make up 700 SNUG Packs, hat, scarf, gloves and socks. These were distributed by the hard working Paris Refugee Ground Support team in Paris and Mobile Refugee Support in Dunkirk.
Thanks to those who contributed towards our reverse advent calendar and our winter SNUG pack appeal, we were able to send 67 boxes of food and winter aid to Yemen.
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.
The numbers of refugees on the Greek Islands have reached over 42,000. Nappies are always desperately needed, often babies are having to last all day in the same nappy. We used donated money to purchase over 19,000 nappies which were sent to Lesvos.