The England-based Care4Calais was set up four years ago by Clare Moseley, who was so appalled when she read about the conditions faced by people fleeing war-torn countries that she decided to go and look for herself.
The experience made her give up her job and start the charity.
At present, most of its volunteers come from the UK as Ms Moseley feels it is important there is an English-speaking presence in Calais.
She said: “The people who want to get to the UK are having to stay in Calais and you can understand why local people get fed-up when it is not their problem. We want the local community to see that British citizens are doing something to help.”
The charity estimates there are about 700 refugees sleeping rough in and around Calais.
They also help at sites in Dunkirk, Caen, Ouistreham, Zeebrugge, Paris and Brussels and have taken supplies as far as the Italian border, where hundreds of people cross the Alps.
Ms Moseley said the charity has two aims: “The first is to hand out supplies, such as food, toiletries, clothing and sleeping bags, which come from donations. Our second role is to spend time chatting, playing games and simple actions like cutting their hair, so they feel more human again, and charging their phones, which are a vital link with their family. We also help them clear up litter, which improves their image with the locals. It is important to help raise morale. They are already traumatised because they have left their country in terrible circumstances, had terrible journeys and they arrive here and it is not what they expected.
“They live in terrible conditions and are constantly being moved on. Sleeping rough is a humiliation for people who have led ordinary lives up to then.
“We have had some amazing people helping out. In February, three pensioners in their 80s came to help.”
To find out more, contact the charity through its website care4calais.org.
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