We are called during the season of Lent to revisit Jesus withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Whatever your usual practice for observing Lent, Churches Together in Marlow and Maidenhead encourage you this year to consider a pilgrimage to go and work with the groups that provide for refugees in Calais. Following a couple of visits to Calais last year, a desire to do more developed. The groups that run the warehouse and kitchen in Calais are keen for volunteers (especially over 60 years of age!) to help with food preparation, cooking and washing up, clothes sorting, and sewing. And so the concept of a Lent serving pilgrimage has emerged.
The idea is that throughout Lent, Churches Together in Marlow and Maidenhead would offer a rolling schedule of volunteers, hopefully like a relay, with between two and eight people volunteering at any one time. The suggestion is to find a friend or several and sign up for a two or three day stint, sharing cars and accommodation. If needed we will provide advice on finding and booking travel and hotels or apartments.
There are no longer any official refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk but people still gather here in the hope of reaching the UK, often with the aim of re-uniting with family who are already there. There are currently around 1,000 refugees sleeping rough in Calais and Dunkirk, another 500 in Brussels and over 1,500 in Paris. They have no access to even basic sanitation and may not have changed their clothes in weeks, leading to skin disease and similar problems. They have no shelter at night or regular food supply, and their health is in shocking decline.
The volunteer groups who work tirelessly in Calais continue to provide food and essential items to help the refugees survive in the most basic of conditions. Many of these volunteers are young people who put their lives on hold to stay for many months often returning several times.
Those taking up this opportunity would be joining the volunteers who work in the kitchens and in the warehouse. A briefing is provided every morning and jobs are shared out. There is a minimum age requirement of 18, but no upper age limit. It will most likely be cold and unglamorous, but a real ‘servant’ opportunity. If it matches the experience of those who visited last year it will be an enormously rewarding and eye-opening time. Please prayerfully consider if this is something you could do.
If you are interested, why not find a space in your diary when you might visit Calais (between 18th February and 31st March)? We recommend three days, but don’t worry if it’s only for one day or five!
To find out more come to one of our information evenings:
To find out more, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign up, click here.