News Release

Mayor attends food packing for refugees

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in seven congregations across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Middlesex and Surrey turned out in force on Wednesday 30 December to assemble 600 food parcels for desperate refugees in Calais. Over 150 people from the Church of all ages and abilities put together the food parcels in a record 90 minutes, which were then immediately driven to Calais that afternoon.

The event followed a similar initiative in November, when over 100 members of the Church and members of the community came together to pack more than 450 boxes of food, which were also delivered and distributed to the camps that same day.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Spelthorne, Cllr Mark Francis and his wife Mrs Catherine Francis, attended the event and were overwhelmed by the initiative. 

"This is a fantastic idea", said the Mayor, as he addressed the group whilst standing on a table. "You have done this before, in increasing numbers all the time. A tremendous amount of people have turned out, I am overwhelmed. You are an incredible sight and it is an incredible thing you are doing. I applaud you all, thank you so much for all your hard work and effort."

In addition to the food parcels being packed in Staines, a delivery of 10,000 blankets, 20,000 rain ponchos, and 4,000 winter hats, donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Humanitarian Aid Department in Frankfurt, were also heading to Calais. The much needed supplies were processed and distributed by 100 members of the Church who had travelled from Staines to Calais that day, in conjunction with the charity, 'Care4Calais'.

Darren Phillips, Bishop of the Guildford congregation and one of the members who went to Calais said, "We stepped into a third world camp made up of people simply trying to stay alive. They are very grateful for any aid they receive. Many are walking in the muddy quagmire with flip-flops for footwear. They go for days without food. When aid is distributed they are respectful and have hope that they are able to receive a parcel before the van doors close. After a very short time, the van is empty and the doors bang shut. The queue is still long and we don't know what to say to the unlucky ones. Then they graciously wish us a Happy New Year with a smile".

He continued, "I am grateful to have participated with my family in this marvellous project".

Russell Ball, regional president of the congregations of the Church in the local area who was present in both Staines and Calais, said, “This was a remarkable event. We had a real opportunity to make a difference. The support from the members of the congregations in our region was fantastic and we were also honoured to have the Mayor of Spelthorne with us. We are humbled and energised and will be doing more again in the coming months, and look forward to involving members of the local communities in this great effort."

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