How did you get into fundraising?
By accident and necessity! When I first read about the refugee crisis in Calais in August 2015, I was shocked to find that there was little charity support for the refugees. Within weeks I was shuttling from the UK to France with supplies. By November I had set up Care4Calais.
What is the best thing about your role?
Meeting the refugees. Many, despite enduring horrific, unspeakable experiences remain not only strong but stoic, accepting and gentle. They refuse to hate their perpetrators despite all that they have been through. And they’re so patient. Waiting for an unknown authority to make critical decisions about their future. It’s a privilege and an honour to meet some of these people.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Trying to do a lot of things at once - managing roles, logistics, distribution, ensuring I make the right decisions on so many issues.
Whether it’s a volunteer who’s given up their annual holiday to help or individuals donating money, who trust you to spend it wisely – they’re big responsibilities.
Do you think fundraising has changed since you have been involved with it, and how?
Yes. When we set up Care4Calais, people in the UK were very supportive of the refugee crisis. We were inundated with both equipment and funds. Today is a different story – we have to source donations ourselves.
We don’t receive government funding and get little interest from corporate sponsors. The money we receive is from the grass roots – shopping bags and biscuit tins full of raised money from real people who want to make a difference.
Our funds come from people on the ground. We regularly receive donations from schools, churches, community groups and families on low incomes who still give us their money because they care.
Would you like to see more done to support fundraisers - if so, what?
Yes - government or local authority support would make such a difference to charities like ours. If so many people want to help, surely there should be some kind of governmental support for this?
What keeps you awake at night?
Worrying about the refugees, the volunteers and how we are going to get aid - everything.