Carlisle Refugee Action Group's Aims
How our group was formed
Carlisle Refugee Action Group (CRAG) was formed in 2015 by concerned local people and coordinated and supported by Carlisle One World Centre and Sustainable Carlisle. A call went out for donations to help alleviate the developing humanitarian crisis in Calais, 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. Since 2015 CRAG has donated around 50 tonnes of aid with many thousands of pounds sent to partner organisations and charities. Many more partnership have formed and the work has expanded to include support to refugees and asylum seekers closer to home.
How to donate clothes (small to medium sized warm clothes for both men and women) and other items for refugees and people seeking asylum
There is a drop off point for donations at Carlisle Enterprise Centre, James St CA2 5BB (around the back) in the main reception area/foyer (which is where our main storage area is based). It’s open during working hours and sometimes in the evening. There are also collection points at local churches around the city. Email email@example.com for more info or to request collection
What we do now
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, shared meals and other ways of helping them settle into our community. Weekly contact sessions were held online during the Lockdown periods and resumed in late 2021.
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 2021 CRAG staff and volunteers welcomed the first families to the city from Afghanistan, having worked to support Care4Calais and other partners in sending clothing and other items to this group of newly arrived refugees to the UK, many of whom have still not found accommodation. There are now a total of 32 resettled families in the city, including ten from Afghanistan.
In March 2022 CRAG members helped with the collection and sorting of aid to send to centres in Poland supporting refugees from Ukraine. Shortly afterwards it was announced that a Carlisle hotel would provide Section 95 contingency accommodation to up to 140 asylum seekers from all over the world. A new appeal for donations was launched and CRAG has played a key role, alongside other local voluntary groups in providing clothes, stationary and other essential item to the hotel residents as well as conversation cafes, sports and social events.
Since November 2022 CRAG members started supporting the residents of a second hotel in the city which will has a particular focus on asylum seeking women and children.
Get involved and find out more