Food Donations from Hereford arrive in Calais

Food clothing and other essential supplies continue to pour into to Calais from across the UK, and the people of Herefordshire are doing their bit to help those living in the Jungle refugee camp.

Calais Jungle Refugee Camp

Last week a van full of donated food and water left Hereford for the long journey down to Folkstone. This is the second time donations have been taken directly from Hereford to Calais. The Hecklers own Luthur Blissett went along to assist with driving.

All the food donations that are going from Hereford to Calais are being packed and organised via the Facebook group Food Donations for Calais and Dunkirk, Hereford Group. For this trip more than a quarter of a tonne of food donations were loaded into the van.

The rest of the load was bottled water kindly donated by a local mineral water company. In all a tonne of supplies left Hereford for the long drive down to the South East. The diesel and channel tunnel costs were covered by donations by people in Hereford and Ross-on-Wye.

After arriving in Calais late afternoon, a couple of hours were spent talking to local people to get their views on the crisis. Unfortunately for us the hotel we stayed in was full of French pigs. The copper we spoke to said of the migrants “We don’t want them here. We need to change the system so we can get rid of them”.

We were expecting an equally negative opinion from local people but were pleasantly surprised. Local bar owner Pascal told us that the main problem is that tourism in Calais has collapsed. English people no longer stop there on their way home. But he said many people are sympathetic to the plight of the refugees, and they are happy to help in any way they can.

Eric, a resident of Paris who was visiting Calais, said he knew who was blame for the crisis. “David Cameron, he’s the one who can sort this out. But he prefers to play politics with these people.”

After spending the night in Calais we delivered our van load of supplies to the warehouse in an industrial estate on the west side of Calais. A hive of activity, staffed by young British volunteers, they were very grateful for our delivery. We were told that the food and water would be sorted into individual food parcels and distributed within days.

Children in Calais Jungle

Children at the camp in 2015. Photo by Philippe Huguen

It was heartening to see the amount of tents, sleeping bags and clothing that had been sorted. Social media would have you believe that most people in the UK are antagonistic towards the refugees, but on the evidence we saw, many people give a shit and are donating a lot of essential stuff.

And it’s a good thing too. The charity Help Refugees estimates that there are over 500 unaccompanied children living in the Jungle. While British politicians argue about their tax returns, innocent children, many of whom have a right to come to the UK, are stuck in squalor and dependant on hand outs. It’s an utter disgrace but at least we can do something to help.

Once again ordinary people show that direct action can work when the politicians fail. Solidarity is alive and well and people in Hereford are playing their part.

These trips from Hereford to Calais will continue until the refugee crisis ends, and lets be honest that won’t be any time soon.

To make food donations, please click here or leave a comment below.

Luther Blissett

For more info visit –

Help Refugees www.helprefugees.org.uk/

Calaid www.calaidipedia.co.uk

 

 

Racism Overshadows 6 Nations Rugby

“Anti-gypsy bigotry is the last accepted form of racism.” This comment was made by the Diversity Unit at Herefordshire Council. Unfortunately the recent goings on in international rugby shows this to be true.

prick

Joe Marler, what a prick.

England player Joe Marler’s ‘gypsy boy’ comment to opposition player Samson Lee should not be underplayed. Let’s be brutal here, if Marler had called someone a nigger, paki or faggott then he would quite rightly have been severely punished. But the mainstream attitude to ant-gypsy racism isn’t given equal importance.

Under the Race Relations Act, gypsies and travellers are recognised as ethnic minorities who have the right to protection from discrimination.

The comment has been written off as ‘banter’ by Samson Lee. An opinion shared by Wales coach Warren Gatland. But the damage has already been done. The comment was heard by millions of people on live TV or replayed on YoutTube. This will only back up the attitude of people who are happy to use offensive terms like ‘pikey’.

Rugby has always sold itself as a full contact sport with respect at its core. Respect for officials and respect for the opposition. Well we’ll remember this nasty incident next time someone tries to claim that rugby has the moral high ground over football.

Six Nation Rugby’s decision not to take any action against Marler has done huge damage, not only to the sport but also to a large section of the community here in Herefordshire and beyond.

Fuck you Joe Marler and Fuck you Six Nationa Rugby.

Luther Blisset

Council cut Funding to Youth Homeless Charity

“Before being housed I was sofa surfing and putting myself in dangerous situations. I was going to kill myself if I could not be housed. SHYPP helped me to turn my life around and go to university.”

These are the words of Laura one of the many young people helped by local charity SHYPP (Supported Housing for Young Peoples Project). SHYPP works with 16 – 25 year olds across Herefordshire. They provide advice, housing, training and employment opportunities as a way of tackling youth homelessness. SHYPP also provides a range of accommodation for young people including foyer accommodation, move on flats, shared houses and supported lodgings.

Unfortunately the importance of these services has been over looked by Herefordshire Council who revealed last week that they plan to cut their funding to SHYPP by 66%.

Herefordshire Council has already shown its utter disregard for young people when it closed the Youth Support Service. But further cuts like the ones proposed to SHYPP will leave young people without the support and advice that this service offers

These cuts will have a massive impact on the ability of SHYPP to help some of the most vulnerable people in Herefordshire.

“This is a significant cut for SHYPP and will put key areas of our service at risk.” Tracey Brumwell SHYPP Central Team Manager told the Heckler. “In particular they are proposing to de-commission our floating support service which is the key preventative work we do with young people, this is where we provide housing, benefits and debt support to young people across Herefordshire working to prevent them from becoming homeless. They are also proposing cuts to our foyer services.”

Campaigners are hoping that people will put pressure on their local councillor to reverse the decision and continue to support the vital service SHYPP provide. An online petition has been set up and can be accessed here.

For more information visit SHYPP’s facebook page here

Luther Blissett

 

The Powys Tax Rebellion

“I will find you and your money” announced Chancellor George Osbourne in 2011. He was speaking after negotiations with Swiss Banks about tackling tax avoidance. Tory millionaire Osbourne claimed that “Tax avoidance is morally repugnant.”

Of course he didn’t mean it.  Because while the most vulnerable in society are suffering massive cuts to their incomes, multinational corporate giants are still getting away with billions in unpaid tax.

According to Tax Research UK we lose out on over £120bn in tax each year, enough to clear the deficit that politicians keep banging on about. Companies like Asda, Google, Apple, eBay, Starbucks and Vodaphone pay minimal tax on their massive UK profits. Cafe Nero hasn’t paid any UK corporation tax since 2008!

All this tax avoidance is done legally using loopholes that allow companies to divert their money to other countries where tax levels are much lower. Successive governments have failed to close these loopholes preferring to blame the unemployed, refugees and the EU for our financial situation.

Now a group of Independent traders in Crickhowell have found another way to force politicians to act.  The group which includes the local coffee shop, bakery, optician, and book shop are exploiting the same tax loopholes by moving the town ‘offshore’.

“We were shocked to discover that the revenue generated by hard-working employees in these British high street chains isn’t declared”. Said Jo Carthew who runs Black Mountain Smokery in the town,” We do want to pay our taxes because we all use local schools and hospitals but we want a change of law so everyone pays their fair share.”

“Until now, these complicated offshore tricks have only been open to big companies who can afford the lawyers’ fees. But we’ve put our heads together, and worked out a way to mimic them.”

Everything the traders have proposed is legal and they have met with HMRC to discuss their plans.

Coffee shop owner Steve said “I have always paid every penny of tax I owe, and I don’t object to that. What I object to is paying my full tax when my big name competitors are doing the damnedest to dodge theirs.”

One of the town’s traders discovered that he paid seven times more in corporation tax than Facebook, which paid less than £5,000 in the UK last year!

They hope that their DIY tax avoidance scheme could go national and force politicians to act.

The story of the Powys tax rebellion is to be covered in a BBC documentary to be aired in early 2016.

Luther Blissett

 

Herefordshire Supports Refugees

In September this year the Hereford Times ran an online poll asking whether Herefordshire Council should accept 10 refugee families.

The result of the poll and the comments that were left on the Times’ website and Facebook page were truly depressing. They painted a picture of a county full of misinformed bigots with no sympathy for those far worse off than themselves. Many comments were racist and offensive, most were removed. The result of the poll was overwhelmingly against helping the refugees.

Three months on and the picture couldn’t be more different. Many grass roots organisations across the county are now working directly with those 6000 desperate people who are stuck in Calais. Our faith in people has been restored.

Groups are now working in Ross, Ledbury, Leominster, Bromyard and Hereford offering practical support and assistance. The collection of food, clothing and other essentials are being collected and taken directly to France. Ross for Refugees has even assisted in the construction of a school for those children currently living in Calais.

But with cold weather fast approaching the need has never been greater to get involved or help in any way possible.

Please find below links to groups who are helping the refugees. Please contact them to find out what donations they are accepting –

Ross for Refugees

Food Parcels for Calais, Hereford Group

Ledbury Refugee Support

Priory Church Leominster 01568 610785 or text 07790 762138

Make Bromyard 01885 448000 info@makebromyard.org.uk

Please comment below if you know of other groups accepting donations.

Luther Blissett