Highbury Farm, Monmouth
The news we see on the television can feel so separate from us. We observe the devastation in the world and can feel powerless. The current crisis facing the Middle East has changed this. According to recent statistics, around 1 in 5 residents from UK have helped in some way to provide aid and money to the millions of people who have faced war, death and tragedy in the Middle East.
Many people from around the UK have joined together and formed small grass routes groups to help these dispersed people in any way they can. The main impetus for this was the incredibly moving images flooding social media sites of a dead boy, drowned on a Turkish beach. The image and the tragedy these pictures conveyed made the world stop and consider the plight of the these people fleeing war.
For Natasha and Nick of Penallt, Monmouthshire, enough was enough. They could no longer sit and watch these atrocities unfold. It was time for action. Natasha put up a call for help on her social media page. She asked people to donate items, providing a wish list for items which she wanted to take to the closest refugee camp in Calais. Many people from the Forest of Dean and Monmouthshire came forward to offer their help. Natasha and Nick formed the action group iNEED, whose main aim is to provide crisis support to refugees. They organised a cake sale to start gathering money for their first trip. As donations and money came flooding in, others joined the action group. Now iNEED has a core membership of six people and over 20 other volunteers.
Three volunteers from iNEED first visited the refugee camp in Calais, called 'The Jungle' by its residents, on the 16th September 2015. They took a car load of food, tents and tarpaulins and assessed the situation for themselves. The three volunteers were completely devastated to witness the horrors of the camp. They walked amongst the refugees, who although had nothing, were so giving and humble. The volunteers handed out the donations, talked with the refugees and made friends. Many spoke English and this was one of the main reasons they wanted to come over the Channel.
Upon returning to the UK the group re-gathered and decided to put a plan of action in place. They created a number of key aims for the group. They wanted to help in Calais and support projects for better living conditions. They currently work at the camp on a monthly basis delivering aid and helping with building projects. They also wanted to provide aid for other people facing similar devastation in Greece and those still living in the Syrian refugee camps. The group has to date has successfully delivered aid items to islands in Greece and very recently sent a 40ft shipping container to Syrian refugee camps on the borders of the Syria. The volunteers at iNEED worked tirelessly to sort and pack all the fantastic donations they recieved.
iNEED also recognise the growing importance of information sharing here in the UK. They have organised events to counter the mis-representation from within the British media. On Friday 11th and Saturday 12th December in The Project Space in Newport, iNEED are hosting an event called From Syria With Love. The event will exhibit art work created by children in Syrian refugees camps in Lebanon. Some of the works reflect the trauma that the young people have experienced, while others are more hopeful and optimistic.
We are committed to:
Supporting projects in the Calais camp;
Creating meaningful connections with people in the UK and those seeking refuge through organising events, skill sharing, providing emergency accommodation, lobbying MP's and delivering outreach projects in schools;
Supporting people in crisis – collecting and delivering aid supplies to Calais, Syria, Yemen and Greece
Working with groups and individuals who share our goal.