Charity cleans up after Kendal Calling to send tents and equipment to refugees

The amount of equipment picked up after Kendall Calling normally helps the charity to supply the most vulnerable during the winter months when they need it the most. Credit: James Cartwright, 2019

A charity is helping to clean the Kendal Calling site of leftover equipment in a bid to help refugees in need.

Since the annual festival finished on Sunday 31 July, Carlisle Refugee Action Group have been salvaging equipment like tents, and sleeping bags. These are then sent to Care4Calais, a charity helping refugees in areas like Dunkirk and Calais in France.

The amount of equipment picked up after Kendall Calling normally helps the charity to supply the most vulnerable during the winter months when they need it the most.

More than 20 volunteers have been combing the site at Lowther Park, however, this year unlike previous ones, more people have heeded the message to clean up after themselves.

James Cartwright is from Carlisle Refugee Action group. Speaking to ITV Border from Lowther Park he said: "It's not sustainable for tents to be left in fields from festivals across the UK each year. Having said that we will always reclaim what we can."

According to Mr Cartwright it is especially important that support gets through to areas like Calais at the moment as organisations working there are not getting as much support as in the past.

He said: "Organisations in Calais don't get the same level of donations as perhaps they have done when there have been certain stories in the media which have led to a surge in donations.

"We need to make sure people who are stuck on the margins in Calais, Dunkirk and Paris have some means of shelter available for them for when winter comes."

He added: "It's about dignity at the end of the day, people who are living on top of a rubbish tip in Calais really deserve a bit more dignity than they've already got so we make sure we give them something that is usable and respectable."

For the volunteers collecting tents from across Lowther Park, it can be hard work as each one left behind has to be emptied and taken down tent peg by tent peg.

A job Mr Cartwright has said is not the nicest, especially when you are combing through "very personal items".

He told ITV Border: "It's brilliant that a team of volunteers will come together to do what is actually very unpleasant work. It's fantastic that people are willing to come out and do a job that basically has no reward other than the knowledge you are doing something valuable."

This year it is expected that the charity will collect around 100 tents - less than half of what the organisation was hoping for, based on what has been collected in previous years.

Kendal Calling 2022 was the first time the festival has returned in three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite less equipment to collect than in 2019, Mr Cartwright said what is collected will still be gladly received.

He said: "Every single one is worth it, and it is worth a bit of discomfort rifling through a tent to get a decent sleeping bag out of it.

"We're lucky enough that we're not on the receiving end of that discomfort so we can put up with a bit of discomfort here."

For those wanting to make a difference when leaving the festival next year, Mr Cartwright urges festival-goers to pack their tent away and leave it at the gates for charities like his to pick up.

Carlisle Refugee Action Group is an organisation based in Carlisle which is part of the One World Centre.

It has been sending volunteers and supplies to North France since 2015, as well as helping Refugee families and asylum-seekers who have come to Carlisle under government schemes.

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