CRAG People and Info
To provide practical support for people living in refugee camps and resettlement situations.
To raise awareness about issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers.
To support refugees/asylum seekers living here and abroad.
To engage in fundraising to support the work of Carlisle Refugee Action Group.
How our group was formed
At the end of August 2015, following a visit to the Calais Refugee Camp by a couple from Brampton, and prompted by increasingly distressing images of the plight of refugees in general - particularly drowning children - Carlisle Action Carlisle (now Carlisle Refugee Action Group) was formed from concerned local people and coordinated and supported by Carlisle One World Centre and Sustainable Carlisle. A call went out for donations to help alleviate this developing humanitarian crisis, and the people of Cumbria responded by offering clothes, food, tents, money and their time as volunteers here at home and in the camps. The outpouring of support was tremendous! Soon a dedicated group of volunteers was sorting out the tonnes of donations coming in and preparing to get them to the refugee camps. The Op-Shop (now Restore) chain, Carlisle City Council and the Diocese of Carlisle all helped support the project with offers of premises to work in, and links were built with other organisations and charities to ensure help could be directed to where it was most needed.
What we do now
In 2021 CRAG volunteers continue to send aid to refugees in Northern France, working with other groups from the North of England and Scotland. There are currently about 1,400 people living in Calais, Dunkirk and Caen area, with thousands more in Paris. Since 2015 CRAG has donated around 45 tonnes of aid with many thousands of pounds sent to partner organisations and charities.
Since 2017 CRAG volunteers have been supporting resettled refugee families from the Middle East living in the Carlisle area, with regular drop in sessions, help with their English language, learning to drive and other ways of helping them settle into our community. Our weekly drop in sessions were online during the Lockdown periods and have recently resumed in outdoor settings.
In September 2020 members of CRAG set up the Carlisle City of Sanctuary Group and are developing a city-wide network of support organisations who believe in promoting a culture of welcome to people seeking sanctuary.
In November 2021 we have welcomed five families to the city from Afghanistan and are working to support Care4Calais and other partners in sending clothing and other items to newly arrived refugees to the UK.