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Old shop to offer new hope for refugees

Volunteers are transforming this car parts store into a hub for refugees Credit: ITV News

It may not look like much but this former car parts business is being transformed over the coming weeks.

A grassroots movement formed to help refugees fleeing war and persecution in their homeland is to expand its support with a permanent presence in Bristol.

Imogen from Aid Box Convoy befriended some of the older girls at the Dunkirk camp - she's now working on their new project Credit: David Betts Photography

ITV News featured the work of Aid Box Convoy in northern France last year. Now the charity has secured a base from which it intends to provide for the destitute and displaced from both abroad and closer to home.

Aid Box Convoy hopes this empty shell will help refugees fulfil their lives Credit: ITV News

The former shop will become

  • A place to bring donations for the organisation to sort and take out to France
  • A community hub for people within Bristol
  • A charity shop - and a free shop where if people can't afford things they can just pick them up
  • An advice centre
Aid Box Convoy volunteers bringing aid to a refugee camp in Dunkirk Credit: ITV News

Aid Box Convoy formed out of those, so disturbed by the plight of war-torn refugees, they gathered as many donations of food and clothing they could and headed for northern France to offer hands-on help.

We featured their work in the mud and cold of a Dunkirk camp which thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan and elsewhere called home.

The camps holding those desperate to reach Britain, are expected to to be cleared any day. So the volunteers and spreading their work to the streets of Paris to where many refugees and now living.

Some have, by whatever means, made it to the UK, only to find a whole new chapter of challenges here.

There are a lot of refugees who live in Bristol, even with their refugee status, and are homeless. So we turned our attention to that and this is where the idea of the warehouse came along and the free shop which hopefully will be opening soon.

– imogen Mcintosh Co-founder, Aid Box Convoy
Volunteers hard at work converting the old car parts shop into a refugee hub Credit: ITV News

Advice on finding that treasured shelter and even work will also be given at the shop, again volunteers will give their time and expertise to do whatever they can.

They are basically fleeing for their own safety and I feel it's my duty as a human being to do everything I possibly can to make them welcome.

– Peter Carr Volunteer

The volunteers accept there is some resistance to the refugees but refuse to be beaten by it, saying the positivity far outweighs the negatives.