North Norfolk couple rush to aid of refugees - now they want politicians to take action
PUBLISHED: 00:12 09 December 2016 | UPDATED: 01:01 09 December 2016
Carmine De Grandis
A good Samaritan who has dedicated much of his year to helping refugees fleeing war-torn countries abroad has just returned from France where he claimed the problem is getting out of control.
And, despite the closure of the Calais Jungle, he warned the need to support the new arrivals - including children sleeping rough on the streets - is not going to go away.
Carmine De Grandis, from Aldborough, along with his wife Jenny, visited a makeshift camp holding more than 300 Afghan and Sudanese refugees in the centre of Paris at the weekend to raise awareness of their plight and deliver much-needed aid.
They handed out sleeping bags, blankets, tents, thermal tights and jumpers following an online appeal for help. The compassionate couple also made over 120 packed lunches, 100 cups of coffee, tea and soup during their visit, while handing over handmade teddy bears for the children.
Now they want politicians to take action.
Mr De Grandis said: “At the moment, Paris is full of refugees who are stranded and are spending the nights without a safe and warm shelter with winter fast approaching. Many organisations have denounced this, but the French government and other organisations are not succeeding in addressing this issue alone.
“We wanted to help some of the refugees sleeping rough and help them feel some human caring and warmth as well as keeping them dry and warm to avoid unnecessary illness this winter.”
In May, the big-hearted businessman drove hundreds of miles across seven countries to Greece in four days to deliver a van to the CK Team - an international group of volunteers, which has been helping refugees arriving on the island from Syria and other war-torn countries - to help transport refugees to hospital and reunite families.
He later returned with his family with more supplies following an online fundraising campaign.
On his latest mission, Mr De Grandis said: “We realised that the situation in Paris was getting out of control with an influx of refugees not being helped or given the opportunity to go back to their country so we collected a number of sleeping bags, blankets and jackets for men, made lots of packed lunches, and drove down.
“We could not believe what we found, just 15 minutes walk from the Stade de France in St Denis, more than 300 Afghan and Sudanese refugees - with a few other nationalities - sleeping in small tents in the middle of the boulevard, an area between the two one-way streets.
“We helped until late at night with clothes distribution and food aid then went to refill the van at the local warehouse and continued.
“We used the rest of the money donated to us to buy small tents as these are vital - it was minus two or minus three on Sunday night and many who had just arrived did not have anything to sleep rough and stay alive.
“The crazy thing is that we were blown away by the kindness, respect and lack of conflict among the refugees. We just wanted these human beings to know we care.”