LE Solidarity is a non-profit community charity group that collects aid and fundraises to buy aid to help refugees both within Leicestershire, in the refugee camps of Europe and within Lebanon and Syria.
In August 2015, shortly before the images of Aylan Kurdi and his brother washed up on a beach hit the headlines, we wanted to collect a few items to send to the Calais camps which were in a terrible state.
Within days we had hundreds of members, 15 collection points around Leicestershire, mainly in people’s own homes, and a sudden need to up our game!
We bought a van (from our own funds - thank you Christopher!) and the council very generously offered us the use of a warehouse. Aid was collected, sorted, boxed up, loaded into the van and taken to Calais, where our European involvement began.
Since those simple days, LE Solidarity has participated in, and run, 7 trips to the camps of France, each time taking and distributing much needed supplies and taking a team of volunteers to help on the ground. Our most recent trip delivered, among other things, 500 sleeping bags desperately needed by cold, wet refugees sleeping on the streets of Paris, fundraised for in a matter of a few short hours thanks to our amazing supporters!
And now, we are branching out even further afield. We sent a container of food, hygiene and medical aid in a container to the Syrian border, where the items were taken by volunteers across the border to hospitals and villages hit hard by the double threat of civil war and terrorism. And we are working with other East Midlands charities to fill a container full of warm winter children's clothing bound for Lebanon.
We have a wonderful core team of volunteers, and hundreds of supporters who can be relied upon to donate items and time and we work with local charities to distribute aid more appropriate for people at home (including homeless charities). We have come so far in the last few months that we are now in the process of applying to become a registered charity. Most importantly, we show that people power works, and that there are a huge number of kind people willing to help their fellow humans!
And, most importantly, since everything is donated (van and warehouse included) we have zero overheads, and every penny, every item really does go straight to those humans that really need it!
If you would like to volunteer your time, donate items or money or help us spread the word of solidarity, please go to our GET INVOLVED page.
We have also donated money to other groups who have long term volunteers on the ground in the camps, including paying for food, firewood and medical supplies. The stories coming out of some of the camps in Turkey in particular are so heart breaking, that being able to send some financial aid is at least of some consolation.
We have also collected household items locally, to decorate and furnish the houses of new arrivals in Leicester and now have a wonderful team of local Syrian refugees who regularly help us with sorting and loading items. We have also held community events to welcome new refugees and help them to settle here in Leicestershire.