‘One Little town One big heart’: The Nation State, Stroud, Refugees and Migration


Hello Jeannie,
What do you think of this idea as a historical record? There is a long contextualising introduction – a personal and historian’s dispassionate voice – and then I’ve copied in fb entries (taking out names) to show the speed at which you are all operating and the mind-blowing organisation and response and consensual leadership – I thought I might try and keep track with NOW and also track the past entries and then put up for Christmastide, if you like.

I love it! Thats so good! Where will it go? There are a couple of bits repeated like the liability insurance. .is that intentional?
I think it’s great..

So, Jeannie, if I have your blessing, then I’ll post the attached when you reply, and leave it as top posting for about a week.
You have my full blessing 🙂 send me the link please!

It’s all a bit confusing isn’t it?
National identity, I mean.
The Land of Hope and Glory
Rule Britannia God Save the Queen
England’s mountains green
Dark Satanic mills United Kingdom,
Subject Citizen befuddlement:
‘This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature, for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in a silver sea …’

But do you remember when you were young,
Writing your name and address in a new book,
Street, town, county, country, continent, world, universe:
That innocence was also an intuitive understanding
Of our dual identity as both national and world citizens,
A duality borne out by recent headlines in the local press:
‘Stroud Cares’, with pictures of banners declaring that
‘Stroud Supports Calais Refugees’,
‘GARAS.org.uk’, ‘Refugees Welcome’.

I am no longer young,
A white English (now middle class) male, born 1951
(Father and grandfather both serving their king in world wars),
Who can trace his ancestry back to London mariners and laundry women,
And Gloucestershire handloom weavers and spinners,
And Wiltshire and Berkshire agricultural labourers;
I was a child of Arthur Mee’s patriotic encyclopedias,
War games in the streets, fields and comics,
With the Daily Express to keep me informed …

But, educated in the 1960s and 70s,
I was also a Marxist and internationalist,
Who never forgot the long line of details of his boyhood address,
In an age when ‘Britain lost an Empire and was in search of a role’:
The ‘Special Relationship’ with the USA, perhaps,
Or should there be a close relationship with the Commonwealth,
Or should it be with Europe?
Plus ca change …

But what has changed, I think, is the idea of the nation state,
With subjects and citizens who defer to national boundaries –
European nation states are, to a great degree,
Inventions of only the last 200 years or so,
Passports are a historically recent innovation,
And most other parts of the world have borders
Defined even more recently,
By empires, decolonization, wars and peace treaties:

So many artificial and unstable frontiers –
But the age of the nation state is seemingly coming to an end,
And people are on the move,
There’s no turning back.

And people in Stroud are not turning their backs:

‘Just want to say a big thank you to Motalas mini market in Gloucester. They sold us loads of food and spices at cost price to take to Calais last week. Mr. Motala is happy to extend that offer to anyone in our group taking food to Calais.

OK so here is our next mission! CHRISTMAS AT CALAIS!!! A group of us are going to Calais on 19th December. Our aim is to take essentials for midwinter – food, firewood, hats, gloves, scarves and socks, especially for the more vulnerable at Calais such as the families, the adolescents and unacompanied minors, and the ill and injured.
So I need to get the word out for people to make up complete food bags for us to take – this list can be downloaded and printed off.
There are also other ways that people can help:
– donate winter hats, gloves, scarves and socks – all are better new – pennies in shops such as home bargains.
– donate firewood – either a net from a garage, or if you have a load of your own then please put some in a compost bag etc and donate that.
– donate money – to the https://www.youcaring.com/refugees-in-crisis-on-the-greek-i… or pay direct into my paypal jeannie.caton@gmail.com – but for either method, please leave a comment stating whether your money is for XMAS FOOD or XMAS FIREWOOD.
– money given for food will be spent on catering food for the free food kitchens
– money given for firewood will be handed over to those on the ground who are responsible for the supply of large deliveries of logs to the site.

3 tins fish – plain in oil…
2xTin/tetra pack kidney beans/chick peas/brown lentils
1xTin/tetra pack tomatoes
1x tube tomato puree
2xTin green beans/sweetcorn/peas/carrots (either/or, not one of each)
1xTin/2xpots rice pudding
2x tins peaches/pineapple
1x500 ml olive oil
1x1ltr Long life (full cream) milk
1xQuick cook rice – 1 kg
40 tea bags
500g sugar
1xPacket dried dates/apricots
1xPlastic jar jam/peanut butter
1x packet cereal bars
1x family packet peanuts
500g plain flour
1x packet veg stock cubes
Apple/orange juice 1 ltr
4 fresh onions
2 bulbs garlic
Plastic tubs salt and pepper
Vacuum pack olives
Plastic tubs spices – sumac, turmeric, garam masala, ginger, curry powder
Sturdy quality plastic cutlery – spoon fork knife – 4 of each

Fleece or wool blankets in new clean condition are urgently required. Drop off at Made in Stroud or The Prince Albert … small backpacks of essentials for babies and children of refugees, including waterproofs for children, sterilising tablets, thermal underlayers for age 4 plus, heat pads, new face flannels and underwear. Drop off at Made in Stroud by Friday 13 November midday.

On Saturday 14 November there is a “Drop & Sort” (items for refugees) event from 10am to 3pm, and a Jumble Sale from 2pm to 4pm at Rodborough Pavilion, with face painting, teas and cakes. Pick up a list of items required from Made in Stroud, Stroud Tourist Information, Stroud Library or The Prince Albert. There is a particular shortage of walking boots … travelling to the Greek Islands on November 23 and is collecting ‘food bags’. Pick up a list of items she is collecting from the outlets listed above … NEXT DONATION DROP AND SORT EVENT… SUNDAY 29TH NOVEMBER 9.30 – 12.30 AT THE WAREHOUSE IN STONEHOUSE
… Hi everyone, well it looks like the pop-up shop is full steam ahead! Now comes the hard work! Can anyone help out on Monday afternoon for a big clean? We would then like to clean and paint on Tuesday, if anyone can help then too? We may also be dismantling /building up parts of walls so it won’t necessarily be a calm and normal painting environment! I would guess it will be mayhem!! All help , cleaning materials, paint etc much appreciated …
Big shout out for paint please… Pale colours of emulsion please if anyone has any tins spare for painting up the shop next week…and big sheets of mdf, hardboard or similar ….and someone to fit it to a wall (easy quick job for someone who knows what they’re doing and has the tools) thanks again! Help needed! We have some exciting news, we have potentially scored a shop in middle street to use as a pop up shop for a month leading up to Christmas and we have ambitiously/foolishly decided we’d like to open for goodwill eve…but we need help! The shop needs a lot of cosmetic work so we need paint, possibly wooden boards, drapes, rugs, shop fittings (ideally), shelves, rails etc and major people power help to get it ready… Is this a crazy idea or are people willing to help us out ? The shop would sell all the donated, good quality, clothes and bric a brac that we already have, and take donations there too which could also be sold or given to the warehouse for sending to refugees, plus some crafty things and gifty things. We will be meeting to discuss this more with the shop owners on Saturday, so please let us know if you have anything, or are willing to help us get this together, thanks …
Hi all – I’m collating all the generously offered raffle prizes and making a display list for Goodwill on Friday – could all of you who have offered prizes please confirm by email to: refugeeaidstroud@gmail.com. If you could include a photo or illustration of your prize (anything will do) that would be great …
PRINCE ALBERT MEETING – THURSDAY 3RD – 7.30 – 8.30pm .. general consensus was that Thursday suits people a bit better, and means that the piece going in the paper each week can be talked about. Please spread the word that this has changed from Tuesdays…
Hi everyone, well it looks like the pop-up shop is full steam ahead! Now comes the hard work! Can anyone help out on Monday afternoon for a big clean? We would then like to clean and paint on Tuesday, if anyone can help then too? We may also be dismantling /building up parts of walls so it won’t necessarily be a calm and normal painting environment! I would guess it will be mayhem!! All help , cleaning materials, paint etc much appreciated …
Does anyone know anything much about public liability insurance? I think we really ought to get some for the pop up shop just so we’re covered, but we don’t have any money to buy it and don’t want to take it from the pot or from any money we raise… Can anyone help? Do you know if anyone already has some, could we be added to it? It’s only for one month? Thanks again …
CALAIS FLASH DONATION DROP (FOOD) A bunch of us are heading out to Calais this coming weekend and we have space on board to take some food over. We will be delivering it to one of the big catering kitchens who do an incredible job every single day. We are collecting the following very specific things only, by request of the kitchen:
- Chopped tomatoes (tins)
- Lentils (tinned or dried)
- Chickpeas (tins)
- Any other veg (tins)
- Spices Larger tins preferred if you are buying specifically, otherwise all sizes are good. All donations very gratefully received. Please deliver Mon-Fri 9am- 5pm to:
Trainspotters, New Mills, Libby’s Drive,
Stroud, GL5 1RN
(Head out of town on the Slad Road, take a diagonal right 100m beyond the Fountain Inn). Alternatively please drop in at the Stonehouse address if you know it and it is posted as being open. Thanks.
Hi Everyone, just a gentle reminder that this FB group is non political. This page is here for us to get together and do practical things to help those in crisis … I
It’s taken me a while to write this up, but if you were at The Albert last week to hear this refugee speak, you’ll know how incredible his story is. I’ve barely done it justice (and have had to change a few personal details) – but here it is …
Mmmmm. ..white Y fronts complete with skid marks!!!! NEW pants for men and women only please smile emoticon …
Really need some men down at the warehouse. …lots of heaving boxes around and pallet packing going on …
“News from Lesvos – IKEA refugee shelters here in Moria camp but no lights! Urgent need to buy lanterns, torches, etc. Please see link below to contribute to fund. Some of the cash to be spent immediately on lights, otherwise shelters too dark & unsafe to use – thank you all x” (from our Stroudie on the ground) …
Where do I direct Arabic speakers who would like to welcome people when they arrive in the area?
I want to take my 7.5 t lorry to Calais.. I cam go anytime.. I want to collect tools and wood fir building shelters.. Medicines.. Paracetamol etc.. Tents and sleeping bags.. I want to know wat water and electric facilities are there.. I have 2 washing machines here that if there is water n elec we can set up a laundry to at least wash peoples wet clothes.. I am after tumble driers. If there is electric.. I would like everyone to take the old tools and pots of nails that they never use..and let me know where they live.. I will collect.. I have about 6 tents but they wont last 1day!! I will be collecting pallets.. And any rolls of roofing/insulation.. Please please people.. See wat u can find!!; one lorry is like 7 cars!!!!!!!;;
A group of us in the forest are making fabric drawstring bags with sanitary / survival items and gloves and socks. We should hopefully be don’t by the end of next week. We would really like to get them sent over to any refugee camps in need of them. Is there any plans to send anything off around then that we can also get sent off to maybe Greece or Syria??
This is Jumble Mountain… this is all of the inappropriate items that we have been given in donations. Please only give us items that are on the list as we do not want this mountain to get any bigger!! Thank you for your generosity.
Lots of positive things have happened today but I write tonight with a heavy heart. Our funding target of £2000 has been exceeded by almost £1000 thanks to your generosity. Hundreds of people have been fed at the port and we have 400 breakfasts, 160 kids packed lunches sorted, and we have waved goodbye to a happy Imad on his way to mainland Greece. He had spent most of his day trying to help us reunite a very young married couple who had been separated during registration. We spoke with this girl, about 22 years old, whose husband had been arrested for not providing the right information. It took a while to get the gist of the story and once we’d established the facts in our three different languages … We wanted Imad to come and translate but he wouldn’t leave her side until we had confirmation of her husbands safety, till he knew whether he had been deported or imprisoned or worse…..So much generosity, so much willingly given time and energy for someone he was unlikely to ever see again..someone he had no real connection with other than common humanity. So much for dog eat dog when you are down and out… That’s something I haven’t seen a scrap of here.
We went to spend your donations on fruit and eggs and stuff for tomorrow’s breakfast and arranged to meet them later to hand over the van.
Back to the port. A balmy Aegean evening, pinky blue skies, mauve water, bobbing boats a far cry from the freezing black waters, the overstuffed dinghys, the dangerously inadequate ‘life’ jackets and the choking of the overloaded outboards, the fear, the vomit, the suffocation of just a few nights before. You could almost be fooled into thinking they were on holiday.
Families with little more than the clothes on their backs took snaps in the fading light with the twinkling lanterns of the boats in the background. Beaming smiling faces. Imagining better futures away from the bombs and the terror most of them have left behind. These families, like ours, sleeping on the streets… Hungry, but smiling because they had moved beyond the razor wire of Moria and the dehumanising, cattle truck queues of registration… Moria, a hellish place where no human should have to live. A filthy stinking detention centre, fit only for criminals and and dangerous beasts. Burning plastic, shredded tents flapping in the wind. Toddlers playing in stagnant puddles. Desperation and uncertainty written on the faces of their parents . Homeless, stateless, forgotten.
The buses take those ‘lucky’ enough to have been registered away from here while a few surly taxi drivers circle like hawks. Lucky? God help them, if only they knew how brief this ‘luck’ would be. With the tickets for their onward journeys in their pockets and a few meagre bags of donated clothing these lucky ones could feel, for a fleeting moment, a sense of relief and freedom. Freedom to buy a ferry ticket, freedom to chatter in the fading sunlight by Mytilini’s picturesque harbour, freedom to take photos of the sunset, freedom to dream of a better life..for just a moment.
I write this with a heavy heart because the news from Europe is not good. Because we are sending them onwards to certain suffering, because the borders are closing and thousands are freezing. No toilets, no food, no clothes, no water, just fences…. And cold…. Bitter, bitter cold. How much can these people endure? How much could you endure?
Yes….. Some positive things have happened today but its actually worse than yesterday and tomorrow will be worse than today and those kids with their smiles and their teddy bears may freeze to death if the world doesn’t tear down these fences, if the warlords (OUR governments) don’t stop the bombs.
Ponder this when you are tucked up in bed tonight. Ponder these innocent blue lipped children with chattering teeth, the trauma of their parents unable to care for them. The desperate men sewing their mouths shut in protest, the hollow eyed mothers who have no tears left.
Some positive things happened today but it is not enough because for every breakfast we are making at 2am in the morning there are thousands of others who won’t eat for days.
Thanks to all who are supporting us and helping us support these people. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. But bear in mind how little it is in the face of all this horror. Don’t stop giving, don’t stop caring and please I beg you, do every tiny little thing you can towards pressuring those who have the power to end this suffering.
There is a great need for socks. Please consider sponsoring a pair or even two. It will make a difference. People are presenting with cold, wet and injured feet. Socks are always in demand. So please if you can support, please do x
Hiya, would really like to donate some warm clothing etc if you need it, but I’m in Cirencester and don’t drive – is there anyone my way who would be able to pick it up? Many thanks
STROUD REFUGEE AID FUND – donate here.. if it’s for something specific then write in the comments what you want the money to be for… “Calais food/firewood” for example.. alternatively pay direct to my PayPal which is where this fund money ends up..except every donation loses a percentage in PayPal fees.. if you pay direct to jeannie.caton@gmail.com and say you are sending money to a friend then nothing is lost in fees. Thanks
To all the lovely people who care about these poor refugees – if you’re like me and constantly thinking about all the little innocent children and babies affected by this horrific situation, I’m hoping you will help. I am calling for all baby carriers – baby bjorns, ergo’s, slings, anything you or your friends have that can carry a baby and rolled/wrapped up and packed to be shipped. Let’s get as many as we can to help these poor people carry their precious cargo on their treacherous journey and hold the hand of their other. You can drop off at my address in Cheltenham or my mum’s in Stroud. Please pm me for details xxxx. Can possibly collect if difficult to deliver
Hello! Some friends and i are organising a refugee aid fundraising evening. We have twisted fix club on the 28th. It will be a circus, cabaret, poetry, general entertainment and fun evening with food for sale.
I have quite a few people already who will preform, but there is room for more! So if you have anything to say or are a circus/cabaret performer or just a funny chap, come showcase your skills for a worthy and hearty cause.
Facebook page for the event will be up today. Many thanks and please spread thee word

Hi, I wondered if it would be possible to get some kind of Work Experience? I am really passionate about this project and l am looking to get a place from the 11th to the 18th of December with any available hours. I can help with anything and I am very hard working and enthusiastic. I’m 18 and currently at Stroud College doing a BETC. I’m also going to university next year to study international relations and politics.

I’m going to Calais for the big clean up this weekend coming….I want to take firewood with me.. if anyone can donate a net or 2 of cut wood can you bring it to the warehouse please before Friday pm…or if anyone can do me a deal on cut and bagged wood I still have fundraised money to buy a load with…thanks
Thanks to everyone who helped get the RefugeeAid-Stroud stall together at Goodwill Eve last night….for the loan of the tables, for the amazing banner, for the gas ring and gas, for everyone’s time and energy..and for the great raffle prizes generously donated… with mulled wine and raffle tickets we raised over £200 in the best part of 2 hrs so that’s not bad going!! THANK YOU!

DONATIONS OF FOOD AND FIREWOOD WANTED TODAY AT THE WAREHOUSE – to be taken to Calais tomorrow. .. FOOD – catering food for the free kitchens..bigger size the better but doesn’t really matter.. rice, tins of pulses beans (not baked) tomatoes, veg soups, fish, flour, dates fruit juice spuds onions carrots ..spices salt pepper sugar etc.. FIREWOOD – Sawn chopped and bagged please! Can accept donations til 4 pm. …please spread this around..thanks!

Warehouse open. . Sun is shining. . . boxes filling. . . Come on down

Our website is up and running, although still a work in progress…have a look Stroudies!

Warehouse will be open this afternoon from around 12.30 for sorting if any of you lovely people would like to come….x

DESPERATELY NEEDED FOR FREE FOOD KITCHENS IN CALAIS…..CATERING EQUIPMENT – PANS ETC….One kitchen had loads of stuff stolen and another kitchen in the family field is trying to start up…both need stuff urgently…I am going out on this Sunday (22nd ) and can pick stuff up tomorrow. . Or donations can be brought to the warehouse in the afternoon. Thanks!

We have a load of mugs, charity shop won’t take them because the transfers and patterns have worn off but they’re perfectly usable, any good?

Is it any kitchen pans? Got some I could donate, but they’re not catering sized

actually i’ve just heard from them directly and what they need is gas burners more than anything… and food!!
Thanks to the people of Stroud for the latest donation to the Refugee Aid – Stroud’s fundraiser… the money from the Jumble Sale last Saturday! Fantastic!! This fund is to pay for future shipping, helping volunteers get to Calais, Greece, or anywhere in between, and to buy bulk loads of items that are desperately needed… please please please donate to this fund, and then share it amongst your generous friends.. thanks…

People who are coming to the donation drop / jumble sale tomorrow at Rodborough pavilion. …could you please splash out on some NEW underwear to donate for the refugees (obviously! )… for men we need underpants /boxers in small and medium… for women we need pants in sizes 8 to 16… and bras (apparently pound stores do stretchy bras that cover a few sizes and are also good for breastfeeding )… children we need boys/girls in all ages 2 to 14… if everyone spent a couple of quid we would have a good load to send off…THANKS!

LIFE AT THE WAREHOUSE….so today we are expecting a delivery of 2225 pairs of children’s wellies!! Donated by Jojo Maman Bèbe (thank you!!)….we could’ve had more but I didn’t want to be greedy…..! Warehouse is open for a day of sorting and socialising for those who fancy it… ‘

The way I see it we have several options:
– crowdfund to pay the rates
– individuals/companies step forward to pay the rates
– we find another warehouse
– we stop collecting and sending aid, and focus on fundraising and getting volunteers to where they are needed, and buying aid and sending direct.
How it is right now is that we are going to have to pay one month of £518 to take us up to 26th January. This will give us a bit of breathing space to get through the seasonal holiday, and then to get as much of the aid sent out to Calais and the Greek Islands as possible.
We will be organising a more formal meeting in the new year for anyone to attend, and we will talk about where RefugeeAid-Stroud is going, and how to do that. If anyone has any ideas or interest in this group then please keep an eye out for the meeting event.
please bump this up so that everyone gets to see it!

MPORTANT PLEASE READ: The situation with the warehouse is as follows: from 25th December we have to pay business rates in order to stay there. There is alternative storage space elsewhere but we are unable to move out of the warehouse by 25th as after today both myself and Gail Campbell (the 2 signed key holders) are away until the new year. So we will have to pay to stay until then anyway. We have decided to pay a month’s rates which takes us up until 23rd January (contract was until 24th December) in order that we can get another shipment out to the Greek Islands, do another jumble sale to get rid of jumble mountain (that has grown again massively!), and generally clear the place without being in a panic. This will mean a payment of £518 that will be coming out of the funds, but really is a cost that we are lucky to have not had to pay so far. But if enough people put in some pennies (20 people x £25, 50 people x £10 etc) then that would reimburse the fund which is better spent elsewhere.
Having to suddenly think about things has led to the people who put most effort in at the warehouse re-evaluating the situation. Over the last couple of months, and in the near future up to end of January we will have achieved a great amount. But we feel that now is the time to stop the general collecting and sorting for several reasons:
– it is incredibly time consuming and to continue it would need a committed team of a number of people so that there is no need for anyone to be there full time.
– Stroud has given so much and now it seems to be outlying areas such as Tewkesbury, Cirencester, Winchcombe and even below Bath that are bringing stuff to us, which is great, but we don’t have the manpower or time to become a Gloucestershire Hub.
– If we have to now pay then it is not a viable option. – as I’ve stated earlier there is alternative storage space that is spacious and dry and safe, but it does not have lorry access for loading. However we may well use this for storage of particular items if someone puts a shout out before they go to Calais etc. but it is not a space that can be used in the same way as the warehouse has been used.
– The last reason is because myself and Gail cannot offer our time so much anymore – we both really need to look for paid work! We both want to stay committed to RefugeeAid-Stroud but on a part-time basis.
So how it all stands at the moment is that we will stop accepting donations of clothing in the first week of January – no more clothing after Wednesday January 6th. We will still accept sleeping bags, blankets, tents, boots up until Friday January 15th as there is a trip to Calais that weekend. After that we will accept no more donations. We are booking a pallet collection for January 11th which may go to just one Greek Island or maybe 2 – we will be taking the begging bowl around for that to pay for the shipping smile emoticon
We want to thank you all for your generosity and thank you to everyone who has come and helped at the warehouse or given us time in other ways (or cake, chocolates, coffee etc!)… and a huge thank you to everyone who has donated any item of anything, or who has donated money for this cause.
So where does RefugeeAid-Stroud go now?? We have decided to move forward as a group which focuses on fundraising, to form as an Association, with a bank account, and focus on 3 areas of funding:
– helping volunteers financially to get out to where they are needed
– feeding financially into grassroots organisations on the ground both in Calais (Care4Calais) and the Greek Islands and even in between.
– being able to buy specific items that are desperately needed by the grassroots organisations, and get them immediately shipped out to them.
This is what we will be focusing on as a group. But we are also many individuals with our own ideas and plans, and that is what is so wonderful about us! There will continue to be people with their own individual trips out to places, who may or may not put a shout out for items that they would like to take with them…to start with, the only thing we will focus on as a formed group is fundraising.
But we collectively feel that it is time to move on from general collecting and shipping. It has been incredible, joyous, and humbling.
Of course this does not mean that no one else can do what we’ve been doing, and if others wanted to pick up where we leave off then we’d be happy to offer any hints and tips that we’ve learned along the way. As previously mentioned, there is some storage available to be used, which would be great on a smaller scale from what has been going on at the warehouse. But we will be moving out of the warehouse at Stonehouse by January 22nd, and will be turning our attentions to other things.
As from today, Friday 18th November, 4pm, the warehouse will be shut until Monday 4th January. We will need volunteers a plenty in that first week especially so please if you can spare a few hours on any day then you will be more than welcome!
Midwinter blessings to you all!