Latest from Calais…

We hope you are warm and enjoying the wintery blast….here is a small update:

We resumed evening hot food service in Calais after not serving for 4 days. We suspended our service in order to encourage the uptake of new hot food distributions by La Vie Active (LVA), which were the result of the overdue decision by the French Government to engage with a daily meal service for displaced peoples in the region. In the early days there was little to no attendance at LVA food distributions, so we started to complement their offering with hot food and tea in the evenings.

The reason people were not coming was mostly down to trust and safety issues, as people saw LVA as the same as the government sanctioned police who show daily aggression and hostility towards them. There is now slightly more uptake of their food offering (breakfast + lunch). We commend LVA for adapting their distribution techniques, serving outside of the compound and reaching out to the different areas and communities, it seems to be working slowly.

We will continue with Calais evening service (600-650 portions), Dunkirk daily (300-400) and outreach in London (200-250 portions per week).

Our wonderful volunteers and chefs are working hard to make nutrient rich, colourful food. Our dishes are made with huge amounts of love and creativity and we’ve taken the rainbow diet concept to next level with a rainbow bulb in one of our extractors hoods!

Huge thanks to all our supporters and sister organisations – L’Auberge des Migrants InternationalHelp Refugees & Utopia 56.

Much love, stay warm xx

RCK Temporarily Halts Food Distribution in Calais

Yesterday, for the first time in 28 months, Refugee Community Kitchen did not serve hot food in Calais. This being due to the local authorities fulfilling the promise made by president Macron to provide food to refugees sleeping rough in Calais.

RCK has temporarily halted food distributions in Calais for a number of reasons including:

  • allowing the gov-funded distributions time to succeed
  • avoiding blame by the gov and press for a lack of recipients
  • the authorities have threatened to fine our vehicles if we return to our regular distribution point (where we’ve been serving hot meals twice daily to about 400 refugees who sleep rough in the woods and nearby wastelands for over a year).

Below is footage of the new government-funded distribution point, which is in a compound surrounded by fences that are ominously crowned with razor wire. The wall of journalists waiting inside to film was most inappropriate and completely deaf to the peoples’ needs and safety. The food consisted of beef and potatoes. No fresh vegetables.

We’re still busy today, making 400 meals for the Dunkirk community and creating nutritious and sustaining ‘cold’ food packs for people in the region who are able to cook for themselves.

Our teams are visiting all of the new distribution points to talk with and listen to refugees on the ground so that we can hear their needs and share this information with the govt-funded associations in order that they can succeed.

All that being said, hundreds of people refused to go to the govt-funded food distributions yesterday, some for political reasons (people won’t accept food until the government halts its violent evictions and confiscation of their belongings) and others out of mistrust for authorities who are known to fill sleeping bags with pepper spray in the middle of the night.

While we hope that the French government will step up and fulfil its duty to support and protect the vulnerable people living on its soil, we are committed to making sure that no one is overlooked or undernourished in northern France.

RCK NORTHERN FRANCE UPDATE

Four months ago, in October 2016, the Jungle camp in Calais was evicted and demolished… 10,000 people were sent to every corner of France to CAOs, RCK thought that the need would be greatly reduced and our operation would not be needed on the scale it had been for the past 11 months. Yes, our hot food distribution has greatly reduced; instead of 2500-3000 meals a day we are now serving between 300-500 meals everyday. A relative breeze for the amazing chefs and long-term volunteers we have in our kitchen.

However, since the closure of the Jungle camp we have far from slowed down our operations and RCK is now just as busy as ever and spending more and more money on food security for the 1400 refugees that have not been evicted from the La Liniere camp in Grande Synthe or have returned from the CAOs to sleep rough in and around Calais, just in a different way.

RCK has two FREE shops in the La Liniere camp supplying food to the 1200 residents of the camp and maintaining the 7 community kitchens that we built in March 2015 to allow the residents to cook their own food.

Once again we have taken the same stance we took when serving thousands daily in the jungle and we make sure the stocking of the shops is done with dignity and respect in mind. We only put food on the shelf that is in date, we make sure we have fresh vegetables everyday as well as fresh bread when we have the money to. Using a ticketing system that was devised by one of the camps most dedicated people, Laure, residents can come to the shop everyday to get what they need so they do not have to stock pile food in their small shelters and take up valuable space, people have started to bring food back to the shops now as they realise that we are going nowhere in a hurry and we are always fully stocked with the basics.

No more just taking what they have been offered they can now choose what they want daily.

Dignity and Respect.

RCK is also working with outreach groups in and around northern France to supply hot and cold food to the smaller camps and squats that are now re-appearing due to the CAOs closing and people returning.

Every day we hear of new arrivals and we offer help where we can, be it daily drop offs of hot food to the 20 young men living in a old building or weekly drops of cold food to small camps 1hrs drive away from the kitchen.

There are also regular drop offs of baked goods to Paris for the outreach teams to give out in the night packs.

Our work here is far from over and we do not see an end in sight.

After the fire in one of our community kitchens that became the Women’s Centre 10 days ago we have once again called on the skills of Finn Kay and Rob Crook who have dropped everything to assemble their teams and are now on the ground to rebuild the centre so that women will once again have a safe space to be and to cook for their families.

None of this is possible without your continued support both in person with your donations and multiple skill sets (we love meeting you) and with your hard earned money so please do continue to come and to spread the word that its not over in northern France..

With LOVE, DIGNITY and RESPECT we will continue to help others less fortunate..

THANK YOU…..

http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com/
https://mydonate.bt.com/donation/start.html?charity=147727

 

 

One year on…

One year ago today RCK served its very first meals to the refugee’s and volunteers living and working in the refugee camp in Calais, France called ‘The Jungle’.

Our first day we served 500 hot and healthy meals. On the menu that day was rice, dahl, salad, fresh fruit, bread and a drink. All produced from donated food from the UK and cooked by chefs and volunteers who gave up their normal lives to come and make a difference to others. It was the start of a year that we was not expecting when we decided to help in the growing crisis across the small stretch water in France.

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