We are part of a grassroots movement working to provide aid and support to refugees. Since we started out in August 2015, in response to the ever increasing refugee crisis, we’ve been involved in several convoys to Calais and Dunkirk, delivering vital aid to refugees and volunteering in camps. We also send containers of aid directly to Syria in partnership with Muslims in Need and Samara’s Aid.
In July 2018 we gained charitable status. Our Registered Charity Number is 1179384.
How we began
The group began back in September 2015, when a group of like-minded people came together from all over Derbyshire wanting to help refugees. It was originally founded by 3 key members – Rebecca Goodall, Hazel Sirene and Marie Crowley. They began simply by collecting donations of warm clothes, tents, sleeping bags, coats and shoes. Soon we were donated 3 warehouses by Derby City Council at the Cattle Market and things really began to take off.
The ultimate aim of DRS is to support refugees in any way we can on their journey and once they arrive at their destination. Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity works closely with other organisations such as Leicestershire Refugee (LE) Solidarity, Muslims in Need (MIN), Derby Refugee Advice Centre (DRAC), Bras Not Bombs, Samara’s Aid, Side by Side Refugees, L’Auberge des Migrants and Care 4 Calais among others.
We also aim to advance the education of the public in general about issues relating to refugees and those seeking asylum by promoting and providing activities which foster understanding between people from diverse backgrounds.
Where are we now?
In September 2018 we moved into our current premises, St Anne’s Church Hall, Whitecross Street, Derby, DE1 3NE. This location is ideal and has enabled us to develop even further. By April 2018 DRS had over 60 volunteers, many from the refugee and asylum seeker communities. This in itself represents an invaluable regular opportunity to foster understanding between people from diverse backgrounds.
During the year 2018/19 DRS have been involved in many community projects and worked alongside many other community organisations. including….
· An allotment project involving volunteers from DRAC, YMCA and DRS took place in Derby during the spring and summer..
· In June 2018 DRS volunteers took part in a Charity Pot Event organised by LUSH at the LUSH store in INTU. This was an opportunity to meet members of the public and talk about what we do.
· During the year 2018/19 we have hosted three Open days/Jumble Sales. All three have been extremely successful, not only as a way to meet and educate people in the community about issues relating to refugees, but also to raise funds. The most recent one raised over £700!
· DRS hosted two teams from the National Citizenship Service who came to help with projects such as “Packs for Calais” and van filling.
· DRS volunteers have given talks/presentations at a variety of venues and for a variety of audiences including: National Citizenship Scheme; Football in the Community; Mothers’ Union; Radio Derby ( x2); Derby war and refugee Forum; Quad, Derby; Northern Light Cinema.
During 2018/19 have continued to maintain strong links with other refugee focused groups in Derby such as DRAC, the Red Cross, Hope Centre, TOGs, Upbeat Communities; City of Sanctuary. Refugees and asylum seekers who volunteer with DRS are able to take clothing or household goods for themselves and their families.
As DRS no longer have a van of our own, we are dependent on cooperation with other groups to ensure our sorted aid reaches its destinations. In 2018/19 this has meant the following collaborations:
· Four containers of aid, in collaboration with other organisations, going to Syria/Greece
· Seven van loads of aid in collaboration with others, going to Calais, Dunkirk and Paris
Festival salvage is also an excellent opportunity to collect items vital to refugees in camps such as tents and sleeping bags and also to collect items to sell such as camping chairs. DRS attended three festival salvage operations this year: Download (june); YNOT (July); Leeds (August)
What happens next?
We meet every Thursday and Saturday morning to sort clothes, receive donations, prepare for jumble sales, car boots and more and more activities!
Now that we have a more “permanent” home we have been able to start English conversation sessions as requested by our refugee and asylum seeker volunteers. These are delivered by volunteers with various teaching qualifications. We also have a garden project which is thriving in the grounds of the church.
We welcome ALL volunteers! Our oldest volunteer is eighty something and our youngest is 7! Our volunteers come from Derby, Nottingham, Sudan, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Cameroon, Nigeria….and many more!
Where can you find us?
Facebook: DRS Volunteers
Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity