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A charity has salvaged tents from Reading Festival to give to refugees

Hertfordshire charity Herts for Refugees is rescuing tents and sleeping bags from festival sites and donating them to refugees in France.

Thousands of tents were salvaged from the mess left at Reading Festival this week by a charity who will now donate them to refugees in Calais and Dunkirk.

Herts for Refugees collected around 2,300 tents and 500 sleeping bags left behind by festival-goers, worth approximately £100,000. These will now be passed on to frontline groups in France to distribute among those living in makeshift camps. 

The Hertfordshire charity was set up in response to the Calais jungle camp which existed between 2015-2016. For the past three years, they have been salvaging tents, sleeping bags and other equipment left behind at festivals to use for the cause. 

CEO Angus Clark explained: “The bulk of what we collect will be sent to northern France […] They will replace tents and sleeping bags destroyed by the French authorities as part of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy towards displaced people.” 

While in theory, refugee status in France grants the right to housing, the numbers of people affected means in reality it often doesn’t happen. This leads to the formation of migrant camps which in turn are often dismantled by the police with possessions also being confiscated, leading to a continual demand for shelter and sleeping equipment. 

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Over the past week, pictures of the mountains of waste left behind at Reading festival have provoked outrage in the media and online. 

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The charity is now looking for volunteers to help with the salvage effort from the Isle of Wight festival, due to take place between September 16 to 19. 

Clark said: “The Isle of Wight festival is one of the smaller festivals we salvage at and tends to have less stuff left behind. That said, in 2019, we still managed to remove around three vans loads of tents and sleeping bags from the site. 

“This year we hope to have around 40 volunteers, some of whom will also be collecting for local charities and food banks.” 

Despite being glad to be able to put the things left behind to good use, Clark emphasised that it would be more sustainable for festival-goers to bring their things home with them. 

“The bigger picture environmentally has to be considered, often we only have the capacity to take a small amount of what is actually left behind.”

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