Sunday, August 06, 2017

Refugees in crisis: How to fill and pack emergency food bags for distribution to refugees living without shelter

July 2017: Preparing food bags for distribution to Sudanese refugees living rough in Bruxelles

In the Autumn of 2015, the death of the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi placed the refugee story centre stage in the mind's eye of many people.  Outraged by the humanitarian crisis, volunteers across Europe kickstarted a huge effort to provide aid and support to the men, women and children arriving here, fleeing war, famine and poverty in several countries across the Middle East and Africa.

This video shows how a very small team of volunteers, albeit with good funding, was able to put together hundreds of food bags in double quick time.  The process in the video works well, but it can be improved.  After watching, I hope you think of improvements and put them into practice to ensure the people you help get the best support available.


Since then, the need to support the thousands of vulnerable refugees, rather than abating has increased.  The unofficial refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk, while awful, offered at least some stability to the encamped refugees.  The camps meant charitable associations could more easily provide tents, caravans, hot meals, clothing and support in a centralised location. However, the breakup of the unofficial camps and the dispersement of thousands of refugees across France and Belgium means the men, women and child refugees and volunteer groups now face different challenges.

In July 2017, the Liverpool based refugee and homeless support team at Merseyaid, put out a call for aid to be delivered to France.  I transported almost a hundred sleeping bags and blankets for distribution to refugees sleeping rough in Northern France.  I stayed volunteering for a couple of weeks.  While in Calais, I helped out at the Care4Calais warehouse in Sangatte and did two food bag distributions to hundreds of young Sudanese men living rough around the Gare du Nord rail station in Bruxelles.

Delivering a food bag distribution to a multitude of end-users is challenging and requires good teamwork but the back-end logistics of gathering suitable food donations, filling and packing bags, balancing the often conflicting issues of deadline, quantity, quality, and budget, requires money, strong processes, as well as great teamwork. 

Merseyaid refugee and homeless support

If you want to donate food, clothes, money or volunteer your time to help refugee men, women, boys and girls please visit Merseyaid the Liverpool based refugee and homeless support group.

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