AN APPEAL by people in York to help the thousands of people fleeing war and persecution has been overwhelmed with donations.

About 3,000 men women and children are living in makeshift shelters without proper sanitation in 'The Jungle' at Calais, after fleeing countries including Eritrea, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Emma Bilson, along with University of York students Grace Redmore, Alex Musto, Miki White and Robyn Hillerby, have been collecting goods and money to take to Calais for less than a month, but said the response has been incredible.

Emma, who organised the collection She said: "It's gone really well, we've been completely overwhelmed with the number of people donating. We've got more stuff than we can handle, but we've got more people coming down with us now, easily six or seven cars full, so I would say it's been a really good response.

"I never expected to get anything near that much. We were trying to raise £500 and we've now at about £1,900, so it's been a much bigger response than we ever could have expected."

National news has this week been dominated by a heartbreaking image of a three-year-old boy who drowned off the shore of Turkey, which has prompted many to call for more assistance from the Government, but Emma said the donations were already well underway prior to that image.

She said: "I think there's a feeling of frustration around, with people wanting to do something. I think there's a real need and a relief that people our going out and taking action and that's why people have responded well to us."

Emma said the items the group is short of include socks, hats, scarves and gloves for the upcoming cold weather, tin openers, toiletries, and men's clothing and shoes, and they will be travelling to Calais on Saturday, September 26.

She said: "We're still collecting right up until the week before we go, and we're looking to arrange further drop-off points, so if anyone who can help out can get in touch on the email."

To find out more about helping out, email Emma on