Eastwood group makes £2k pledge to Dunkirk refugees

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Eastwood residents are reaching out to refugees in France once again, launching a crowdfunding campaign to take waterproof boots to those in need.

Following October’s Convoy to Calais — the largest single supply of donations from Scotland — Eastwood Refugee Aid (ERA) was formed, with some of the original convoy members hoping to make regular trips across the Channel.

The group’s next journey takes place on February 17, when ERA hopes to take £2,000 or more to buy winter boots for those at Dunkirk.

Peter Buchanan, of ERA, told The Extra: “There are so many people there either barefoot or in sandals — so last time, we visited three Decathlon stores in France and cleared the shelves, with £12 allowing us to buy a pair of waterproof boots and socks.

“In October, the Dunkirk camp had 500 occupants. Since then it has risen to 3,000, and the place is a swamp. I read that a doctor randomly tested the core temperature of 100 people, and 80 of them had hypothermia.

“Anything that we can do to keep people dry and warm is a necessity. It’s a drop in the ocean, but we have to do something.”

Peter describes the scenes Convoy to Calais were met with as “heartbreaking — nothing like what you see on the news.

“It’s disgraceful, the journey that these people have made and then they arrive with nothing and are given nothing, except for what little charities, churches and groups like ours give them.

“These are women and children who have lost people on the crossing, and if someone doesn’t give them warm clothing, a tent, gas or cooking facilities, they’re stuck out in the pouring rain and freezing cold.

“Everyone involved in ERA is raising their own travel expenses and every penny donated will be spent on boots this time.

“It’s a matter of getting there as quickly as possible, because winter is only going to get worse.”

The initial target is £2,000 — and the justgiving page shows ERA at the halfway mark.

The group will also host a quiz night at Busby Bowling Club on January 15 — tickets available on the door, or from Ron McKechnie on 07917005480.

To donate, or to follow ERA’s progress, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/ERA.