From Cockermouth to Calais, with love

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COLLECTION POINT: volunteer Heather Rushton, left, with Sian Spencer who set up a website asking for people to donate clothing for refugees at Calais, and have had their collection point at Lorton Street Methodist Church, Cockermouth 
COLLECTION POINT: volunteer Heather Rushton, left, with Sian Spencer who set up a website asking for people to donate clothing for refugees at Calais, and have had their collection point at Lorton Street Methodist Church, Cockermouth 
10 September 2015 1:25PM

A Cockermouth mother, who set up a website to send items to refugees in Calais, said she was overwhelmed by the response. 

Sian Spencer set up the Cockermouth to Calais website on Sunday to ask for people to donate camping kit, clothes and food at the town's Lorton Street Methodist Church and by Wednesday, the church was full of goods.

Town haulier Simon Nicholson offered to transport everything to Carlisle, to Calais Action Carlisle.

From there all the donated goods will be shipped to Calais in London, which has links with the refugee camps.

Sian, of Cedar Lane, said: "Everyone has been fantastic, it's been a real show of humanity, so many people wanted to do something."

She was keen to point out she has only played a small part in the hugely successful venture which was initially mean to be a one-off but will be repeated due to its success.

Details of future collection points will be put on the website.

"I spoke to my mum, Sue Warner, who is involved in All Saints Church, about helping these refugees and it all snowballed form there.

"It turned out there were so many people who wanted to do the right thing, and help," said Sian, a solicitor at Burnetts, who lives in Cedar Lane.

Sian added: "So many people have donated goods and I have had emails from many people wanting to help or donate money.

"Fairfield Primary School heard about it and texted all the parents."

Cockermouth area team rector The Rev Godfrey Butland contacted local churches and helped co-ordinate the collection point.  

Sian and Sue, of Beech Lane, were due to travel to Carlisle yesterday to help sort and label the many bags of goods.

The website was inspired by the shocking image of a drowned three-year-old, Aylan Kurdi, who washed up on a beach in Turkey after fleeing war in Syria. 

Sian said: "I was at work at the time and had to walk out when I saw it."

She was keen to do something for the many refugees stranded in Calais.

The majority are thought to be seeking asylum from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea and Somalia.

In Calais, migrants set up camp wherever they can using waste or unoccupied land and moving to new locations when camps are closed down by the French authorities.

Other migrants live in squats in abandoned buildings.

Mr Butland said: "That one photo of the young boy changed everything, it brought home to people this was someone's child, these people are human beings.

"The town network has kicked in. I'm a new boy here but had heard what warm-hearted people there are here, always willing to respond when a need is identified. This has proved that."

The website, at www.cockermouthtocalais.com, called for items such as sleeping bags, tents, blankets, coats, toiletries, tinned food and cooking items.

Future collection points will be listed on it and organisers have asked that goods are no longer dropped off at Lorton Street Methodist Church.

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