Our Convoy Partners: Stand Up To Racism

Stand Up to Racism and Fascism is SWAN’s partner in the upcoming #socialworkconvoy delivering goods and money to The Jungle on Sat 17 Oct. Here we hear their latest information and advice: 

SUtR is asking convoy participants to attempt to book onto the 10.50am train to Calais, in order that as many people arrive together as possible. PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE TO PREVIOUS INFORMATION. If you are already booked onto an earlier train don’t worry – as long as you don’t mind waiting for the whole group to reconvene. Please bring any SWAN, union or political banners/placards in order to make a loud statement with a rally protesting the racism of Britain’s social policies toward immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Otherwise, and occasionally, known as ‘people’. The convoy aims to be entirely together by 1pm French time. 

As stated previously, items requested are quite specific as space and storage is limited at the Jungle. See previous articles on the convoy. Money raised will be hugely welcome and will go toward a new van to shuttle items between the camp and storage. Extra material will be sent to Greece, where there is HUGE need. SUtR and SWAN are working with L’Auberge des Migrants, CalAid and Secours Catholique who currently provide aid at the The Jungle.

Thank you again. 

2 weeks until the #socialworkconvoy!!! MAJOR UPDATES


Money makes the world go around
It makes the world go ’round.

A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound
…a buck or a pound
…a buck or a pound.
Is all that makes the world go around
That clinking, clanking sound…
Can make the world go ’round


Apologies to all fans of Liza Minelli and Cabaret, but we need to push ahead now with fundraising! We need CASH to get across the Channel, and money to take with us – for the next few weeks, with regard to the convoy, it’s money that will make our world go round!

This week Michael has written an article for the THES, it will appear on 15 October. Community Care have asked if they can accompany us over on the 17th – and of course the answer is yes!

We are continuing to get reports of other groups joining us, or raising money for us.

An awful lot of social work courses have gone back this week. If they can’t join us, could they organise a collection for the convoy? Why not get onto local student social work groups?


Transport to France

We are just over two weeks away from the convoy and need to start booking cars, vans and lorries onto transport across the Channel. 

In Liverpool, people have decided to go for the boat across, rather than the train. If you are booking the train try to book on the 10.20am. We will confirm the boat times in the next few days.

The argument for the boat is: it’s slightly cheaper, we can drive on and then all meet for breakfast on the trip over. It will add about 15 miles each side onto your trip.

But the train is quicker and brings you out a mile from the camp. It’s up to local groups to make their own decision!


Overnight accommodation?

For those travelling from ‘up north’ it will be difficult to travel all the way, get a train or boat, demonstrate and take part in solidarity activities and travel back!

But we don’t want to spend extra money on hotels – and in any case, it might seem strange if we are going to nice hotels as we take materials for refugees!!

So we are investigating whether there is a community hall or student union hall that we could take over for the night. We would need to bring sleeping bags (but could then leave them in France). It will be basic, but will allow us to meet and get some sleep! If this would interest your group, please contact Michael on 07739729214.



There have been several reports coming out saying Calais is full of material! 

Two things on this:

First, our convoy with Stand Up to Racism has been ‘booked in’, we are expected. Random convoys are indeed problematic. But they do want good and useful stuff, not general goods (i.e. they don’t need lots of children’s clothes).

Second, they do have a lot of material. So money is particularly useful if you can raise it. One thing Liverpool is doing is asking students to bring in spare euros – it’s the end of the holiday season, think of all those spare euro coins we can’t exchange and will probably lose. But think about how useful they would be in Calais. Liverpool are having a social event – and on the bar there is a sign saying “buy a refugee a drink”. In other words every time you buy a drink or a round, add the price of a pint on and put it in the collection bucket.

If your group has raised money, we will soon be posting up the Stand Up to Racism account details for money to go into. This will then be exchanged and put in the local campaign funds. If we do it this way, we will cut down on currency exchange costs. 

However, if your group don’t want to do this, you can exchange your cash into euros and bring it. Please don’t distribute the money on your own! We will organise this on the day, so it is split evenly between the organisations on the ground.


Samos, Greece

We are looking to send a shipping container to Samos, Greece. Former Professor of Social Work, Chris Jones, now lives in Samos and works with refugees. 

He writes a regular blog about his work, which you can read here: 


We are waiting for quotes for containers. We have asked for quotes both sized 20ft and 40ft (mainly because Michael has no idea about the size and cost of this!!) We will post details as soon as we have them.

However, Chris sent us the following this week. This is what they are particularly short of in Samos:

“In terms of what would be helpful, it is certainly the case we are always short of decent shoes/trainers for men.  

Baby carriers would be useful; so would blankets/duvets and sleeping bags especially; jackets again especially for men and water proof outwear. 

Warm baby and toddler clothes. Women’s stuff similar to men, but there are fewer women than men coming at the moment.

Many of the refugees are young and seem kind of clothes conscious, so I can imagine that they would like the sort of stuff your students might wear?

Will distribute material from here to other projects across the island.”

So if you have any of the above, you could consider putting them in the container for Samos. As soon as we have details of the container, we will post its location and how to get material into it!

As always – THANK YOU.

Update from Greece Swan on the Refugee Crisis


Unfortunately, the refugees’ crisis is not new for Greece.  The anti-immigration policies by EU – through the Dublin II convention, Frontex etc- as well as the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and so on have created massive waves of refugees in Greece and elsewhere during the previous years. For at least the last 15 years there are thousands of dead refugees in Mediterranean while there is a systematic violence of human rights. The Dublin II convention had trapped thousands of people while the EU’s anti-immigration policy is actually a criminal policy.

Meanwhile  the hypocrisy  by EU was expressed through generalist announcements for the protection of the human rights still the main interest of the leaders of EU was and still is to keep the borders close and the towns ‘clean’ by the desperate people.

However, the last months the refugees’ crisis is particularly intensive. For first time an impressing wave of solidarity expands across Europe. It’s now the time that we need to express our solidarity but also to strength our voice against anti-immigration policies of EU.

In this direction, Greek Social Work Action Network from its initial steps has a strong bond with the antiracist and solidarity movement in Greece.

During the previous weeks Greek Social Work Action Network participated in solidarity campaigns for the refugees in coalition with the antiracist movement.  For example in Patras the Motion for the rights of Refugees and Immigrants, the Movement ‘Expel Racism’, Greek Swan and Solidarity Medical Clinic called people of Patras to express their solidarity to the refugees in Lesvos and the response was amazing. Our places were full of clothes, food etc and we sorted them out and then sent them in Lesvos.

Part of the money that Swan have sent in the group of Patras have been used by our group for buying goods for the refugees (the rest of them has been already used for covering cost of our interventions in community).

Greek Swan also participated in the European Day of refugees – 12th of September – in Syntagma square in Athens. The main slogan here wasn’t only ‘Welcome Refugees’ but also No to Fortress- Europe, No to Frontex.  We also published an announcement – call for action (solidarity and resistance) for social workers in Greece and we also participate in anti-racist campaigns, demonstrations etc.

We unite our voice with the colleagues across Europe and call for solidarity to the refugees but also resistance against Fortress-Europe.


For more about Greece Social Work Action Network please visit: https://socialworkaction.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/%CE%B1%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%B7%CE%BB%CE%B5%CE%B3%CE%B3%CF%8D%CE%B7-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%BF%CF%85%CF%82-%CF%80%CF%81%CF%8C%CF%83%CF%86%CF%85%CE%B3%CE%B5%CF%82-%CE%BF%CF%87%CE%B9-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B7%CE%BD/





Seize The Time! Convoy Update

The convoy is growing. We are aiming to get the 10.30am train over to Calais. So it would be good to aim to arrive at the train station about 9am. 

Once in Calais there will be a demonstration and rally. It will allow us to deliver material and then stay and march in solidarity with local activists and refugees. BANNERS AND PLACARDS WILL BE MOST WELCOME!

The demonstration has only been arranged today (Saturday 19 Sept). We will post more details as we have them. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for SWAN activists to make a real difference within the refugee solidarity movement. Seize the time!

Please also be aware that we are aiming to organising a shipping container to take items for women and children to either Kos or Samos where we have links. This is in response to the request for MENS items in Calais. More will be posted when we have additional information. 

The Convoy Grows!


As the desperation of the refugees begins to lip from the headlines, and the complexities of how countries choose to offer asylum and to whom grow, the need to apply pressure onto and shame our leaders grows stronger. So far we have:


 3 lorries coming from Wishaw, plus other cars from the Glasgow area.

 A lorry from Leicester. 

 11 cars from Manchester.

 Up to 10 cars from Liverpool.

 A car each from Northern Ireland, Birmingham and West Yorkshire.

 Several cars from across London.


The convoy will mainly take goods suitable for men in Calais. We will try to organise a container to get women’s and children’s goods to Greece – more details about this to follow.  

If you are organising to join the convoy, or if your group has had a meeting about organising for the trip, why not write us a paragraph or two and send it to us to upload? Members across the UK and those based in France are looking for your tips!

Send your reports to swansocialwork@gmail.com

Convoy Update and Tips for Organising – Please read.


Things are moving very quickly with the SWAN convoy. We will be joining Stand Up To Racism and going to Calais on 17 October.

We already have 11 vans going from Manchester and hopefully 10 from Liverpool. There are cars coming from Glasgow, Birmingham, North Wales, Brighton and London. 

In Liverpool on Friday a large meeting started to organise for the convoy. They need to raise £300 for each car/van (to cover petrol and train crossing). So it was agreed to:


  1. Set up a ‘Just Giving page’. On the page each £300 donated will be marked off against another car to show (visually) where the collection is up to.


  1. Parents agreed to approach their schools to ask for a ‘no uniform day’ to raise funds.


  1. A collection will take place at Hope University every lunch time week beginning 5 October.


  1. A fundraising social is being organised.


These were just some of the fundraising ideas the group came up with. Ideally your group/network should do similar.


In Calais it is mainly men who are in the jungle. So you should load up with tents, male clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, waterproofs. 


In Liverpool the meeting decided that women’s and children’s clothes and goods would be kept behind and we would look to raise funds for a container to take them to Kos or Samos where there are many more women and children amongst the refugees.


Pack everything together – have a bag of shoes, another one of jumpers, another of waterproofs – and label them. Mixed bags leave our French colleagues with a huge task of separating them out.


Money is vital. Do a collection at your work, college, community. We need money for the cars – but the organisations need money as well. 


We will transfer any money for the refugees and support organisations into the Stand Up To Racism account the week before the convoy (see report below). This is to save on international exchange charges – and make sure more money goes direct to the refugees and support organisations.


Stand Up to Racism carried out an initial convoy on 5 September. Here is a report on their trip:


Initial Calais convoy

A convoy of 15 cars brought supplies and over £6,000 in cash for migrants trapped in the “jungle” in the French port of Calais. 

The convoy was organised by the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) campaign. Everything it took was raised by ordinary people. 

Many were surprised by the positive response. Kate from Oxford said, “I put something on Facebook and people have been donating. 

Seeing the horrific pictures on TV has galvanised people who might not have had a political bone in their body.”

One of the biggest delegations was from Brixton in south London, where trade unionists brought banners to wave the cars off. 

It included a group from a local mosque, the Lambeth Masjid and Progressive Community Centre.

Umar said: “The local community has been very positive about it. 

“All of us migrated here, if not this century then in the last one.”

The refugees’ increasingly defiant struggle to reach safety has inspired solidarity across Europe. 

People have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds and so many supplies that NGOs working with the refugees are running out of storage.

Many people rightly demand that more is done.

Hanane, a media worker from west London, said, “The government needs to provide emergency housing for these people. There’s always room for our brothers and sisters, we just need to find it.”

North London pensioner Susie Helme agreed. “It’s nonsense to say there’s no space. 

“Look at all the homes that are empty, all the land that isn’t being used.”



SUTR organiser Maz Saleem said, “People are outraged. It’s disgusting how the government treats these people—as if they would risk their lives for a pittance in benefits. 

“Britain needs to open the border and let them in.”

The convoy stopped at the Notre Dame church, used by charity Secours Catholique as a depot for clothes, tents and other supplies.

The donations made an immediate difference to Kadija from Ethiopia, who could replace her hijab. “I like the clothes,” she said with a smile.

Two months in the jungle have taken their toll on her. Kadija’s arm was wounded from her attempts to board the Channel Tunnel train. “It’s very dangerous and I’m very tired,” she said. “My husband is in England, and I want to go there with him.”

Michelline Ngongo, a Labour councillor in Islington, north London, read out a message of support from the then Labour leader contender (now leader) Jeremy Corbyn.

She came to Britain as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo—and could only stay thanks to trade unionists organising to defend her.

“I left my country very young, and it wasn’t easy,” explained Michelline. “I had to leave everything behind—my friends, my family. 

“Let’s help these refugees. It’s very difficult to be in that situation.”

The convoy headed to a distribution centre near the “jungle” shanty-town that over 3,000 migrants call home. 

Activists were moved by the sight of their conditions. 

Sudanese refugee Abdullah said, “We live in a jungle, we have no shelter and we only get fed once a day. I’ve been here for three months. 

“We need homes, and France isn’t helping us. You must open the borders and let us in.”

Weyman Bennett from SUTR said, “It’s very important to bring aid. 

“But it’s a drop in the ocean in terms of what they need and in terms of what the government could do by opening the borders. 

“What we want is for those people not to have to live in those conditions, for them to get asylum in Britain. That’s the point of us going.

“The people of Germany have welcomed the refugees. We need to bring that to David Cameron—to take to the streets and say if you don’t stand up as a human being, we’re going to make you.”

NGOs working with the refugees in the jungle need support—but can also struggle to cope with the influx of goodwill.

If you want to go to Calais, join an organised convoy and contact local organisations such as Auberge des Migrants, Secours Catholique and Salam first.

Storage space is limited. Tents, blankets, sleeping bags and waterproof coats—especially for men—are always wanted. 

So are hiking boots and trainers.

One of the most useful things is money. It can go towards bigger infrastructure that’s harder to bring such as vans.

It also means you can ask for donations in your workplace or community group—the perfect opportunity to debate the issue and build for protests.

You can send money by PayPal to Stand Up To Racism for it to take to Calais in one go and save bank fees. Download a collection sheet from bit.ly/1O6pghE or find out more at standuptoracism.org.uk including links to donate.


Swan has been overwhelmed with support for our convoy to Calais, organised alongside Stand Up To Racism. Please find contact details for your local coordinator on this page and all relevant news. 

Since our announcement that we will be taking a Solidarity Convoy to Calais on 17 October, we have been inundated with inquiries and offers of help from social workers wanting to join the convoy. We have now got some local contacts. This list will continue to grow, and this page will be used for all information updates. PLEASE CHECK REGULARLY:

 In Liverpool phone Alison on 07872313339

 In Salford/Manchester phone Shireen on 07835693716

 In Brighton area call Fran on 07523218191

 In Glasgow area contact Natalia on 07852765173

 In Newcastle and the North East contact Terry on 07776185366

 In Birmingham ring Sian on 07749851513

 In North Wales contact Katie on 07791270027

In Leicester contact Manisha on 07979038270 or manishapatel2@btinternet.com 

In London contact either Dan on 07989432570 or James on 07824806009

In Yorkshire contact Michael on 07504748063

 For national coordination call Michael Lavalette on 07739729214

We are looking for coordinators especially in the BRIGHTON and SOUTH WALES areas. If you live elsewhere and want to help, contact Michael Lavalette. There is no geographical limit! We expect local meetings to take place, to help you work in small local teams. 

Please be aware that we are closely communicating with contacts in Calais – this is a well planned convoy and if there is no capacity for a delivery directly to The Jungle in mid-October we will divert goods to a distribution point in London. 

This is a huge opportunity for SWAN members and social work more broadly to challenge the racism that informs our government’s asylum and immigration policies. We are extremely grateful for your action. 



SWAN is inviting all supporters and all social work student groups across the country to join us by raising funds to bring a car or a van full of goods to the Euro Star terminal in Kent in October 17. Please remember to book your transport into the train! Student support for the convoy is already overwhelmingly strong and October 17th gives social work courses across the UK time to mobilise. All are welcome and encouraged to coordinate with us.

In conjunction with Stand Up to Racism the convoy will take the train from Kent to Calais on Saturday 17 October where we will meet up with local activists to take good and clothes to ‘the jungle’ in Calais.

SWAN national coordinator Michael Lavalette said:

“People are appalled at the scale of suffering and misery being inflicted on refugees by European governments. The response of the UK government to the crisis has been shameful.

“Working with local organisations in Calais we intend to bring solidarity to refugees in ‘The Jungle’ in Calais. We want to challenge the racist discourse about refugees. We want to make it clear that “refugees are welcome here”.

“Historically many social workers have played an important role in supporting refugees and migrants – going right back to the Spanish civil war. This is part of our history. It’s right that social workers stand up to racism and support some of the most vulnerable people in the world”.

In the next few days we will be announcing the kind of goods and materials needed in Calais. We will also announce the train we intend to take to France. Please follow developments at www.socialworkfuture.org.

If you are interested in joining the convoy please call 07739729214 for further details.