A BENEFIT concert to raise money for refugees in Calais is taking place this Saturday at the Cathays Community Centre.
The gig is the latest of many efforts by local groups to raise money and support for refugees in Calais and when they arrive in Cardiff.
The family-friendly event aims to raise money to be delivered to aid workers in the Calais camp. There will be performances from acclaimed singer songwriter Frankie Armstrong and the African, Caribbean and Latin sounds of the Cougar band.
Concert organiser Andrea Heath said: “We hope to provide an entertaining evening of great music and delicious food while raising money for refugees in Calais.”
Local musician Steve Garrett will also be performing and will talk about his recent visit to Calais to help run a temporary kitchen. There will also be a speaker from the Cardiff and Vale Sanctuary Support group who will give an update on recent developments in the Calais camp and talk about ways to get involved with supporting refugees.
Ms Heath said: “We hope the gig will reach a new audience, raising awareness about the terrible situation that refugees find themselves in at the camp in Calais, as well as raising money which will be taken over on the next trip to Calais by Stand Up to Racism and Cardiff and Vale Sanctuary.”
The gig costs £5 on the door, or whatever people can afford. Organisers are also asking people to bring donations of cooking oil, one of the many provisions in short supply at the Calais camp.
Elsewhere in the city other efforts are underway to help refugees.
Cardiff Trinity Methodist Church offers free English lessons to refugees. Around 30 volunteer teachers work with two or three students each, many of whom are Somali, Eritrean, or Syrian.
Cardiff and Vale Sanctuary Support organise collections of clothing and other essentials to be taken across the channel to the camp in Calais.
The Welsh Refugee council is organising a two-year, lottery-funded project to allow people to tell their own stories. Refugees are being trained to record video interviews and documentaries about their own lives to be displayed at exhibitions and online.
Alessio Perrone is a journalist and blogger who moved to Cardiff from Italy who writes about refugees on his blog Diaspora Cardiff. He previously covered the refugee crisis in his home city of Milan, which was flooded with thousands of refugees trying to make their way to northern Europe. He has compiled this map and a list of 32 Cardiff organisations currently working with refugees or raising awareness of their plight.
Mr Perrone said: “Views in the UK were different from the ones I was used to in Italy. I guess the community is both more engaged and less engaged here. The general population doesn’t seem to be as engaged with the topic.
“But I would say there is less activism in Italy than there is here. Here there are more groups, they are active, they are more open and more transparent but they’re small.”
Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone said: “The initial reception centre for asylum seekers is in Cardiff Central and I am pleased that single men, single women and families are accommodated separately for good safeguarding reasons.
“There are tensions that need managing around the pressure on housing, but overall the community has given generously to support the refugee crisis across Europe; the numbers responding to the call for donations in kind before Christmas was overwhelming.”
In June 2014 Cardiff became the UK’s seventh City of Sanctuary, part of a network of cities throughout the country which are proud to be places of safety for people seeking sanctuary and help them integrate into their local communities.