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Shrewsbury woman launches appeal for Calais migrants

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Steph Jones was so moved by the plight of thousands of migrants camping out in Calais that she decided to launch an appeal to help them.

But she quickly became the victim of a torrent of abuse from internet trolls.

Steph is determined to keep smiling and plans this week to personally deliver the items she has collected to the camp known as The Jungle, on the outskirts of the French town.

"I have all sorts of items donated from clothing and sleeping bags to toys and even cash," said Steph, from Herongate, Shrewsbury.

"While some have criticised me, others have really wanted to help out."

Migrants on the railway line at Coquelles near Calais walking towards the Channel Tunnel entrance

Steph said she posted her original appeal on Facebook, but was quickly bombarded with abuse from people saying she should be helping those in her own country.

She has been called naive and told that any collections she makes should be distributed locally and nationally first.

The 30-year-old finance manager said: "I don't really care what they have to say. I know that something has to be done for these people.

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"They have been left stranded with nowhere to go. To be fair, while there have been some people who have been horrible about it, the community spirit has been really amazing."

This is the first time Steph has organised such a collection, although she has been involved in other fundraisers in the past.

Although she has now collected enough to fill one van, she is hoping for a last minute push to fill another.

"It has gone so well with the collection that I really think we can fill another van as well as the one we already have," said Steph.

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"These items will really make a difference to the people in the camp. I have never done anything like this before and to be honest I am running around like a headless chicken.

"I saw the camp in Calais on the television and it seems to me that they are stuck in no man's land. I am really concerned as soon winter will start kicking in and the numbers at the camp will continue to grow.

"The way the camp has been portrayed in the media has only shown it in one way.

"This trip will give people the opportunity to see the other side of it. I will be keeping a record of everything that happens and anyone who is interested will be able to hear about it. In my book if people need help they should be able to get it. These people have been stranded in Calais. I am just trying to collect some stuff together to help them out."

If anyone wants to donate anything to Steph's appeal she can be contacted on 07833 492155. She will be setting off for Calais on Thursday.

The Calais Jungle is the nickname given to a series of camps in the vicinity of the French port, where up to 5,000 migrants live while they attempt to enter the United Kingdom illegally by stowing away on lorries, ferries, cars, or trains travelling through the port or the Eurotunnel.

The migrants are a mix of refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants from Darfur, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and other troubled areas of the world.

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