Dedicated volunteers are helping those who have fled countries ravaged by war and violence at home and abroad.

As the festival season draws to a close, volunteers up and down the country are scouring the camping sites to collect items for charitable causes.

James Cartwright, from Carlisle Refugee Action Group, is one of these people.

At the beginning of August, he travelled to refugee camps in France to drop off a van full of donations such as tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats as well as to offer his support to long-term volunteers at the camps in Calais and Dunkirk.

“Straight away, we got on with drying out sleeping bags and over the course of the time that I was there we managed to get all the tents and sleeping bags dried,” said Mr Cartwright.

While at the camps, Mr Cartwright helped to sort through the donations in the warehouses that will eventually be given to refugees without shelter and warm clothes.

“We spend the morning preparing for an afternoon distribution, this means the sleeping bags, underwear, or food parcels that we’re handing out, we make sure we get them ready,” he commented.

“We get our tea and coffee stand ready and check the generators have got petrol in them... we have barbers equipment as well.”

It isn’t just the bare necessities that these volunteers offer to the refugees; they help to give them basic self-care that is so often ignored when simply trying to survive.

He said: “The idea is that as well as distributing essentials that people do get a bit of real-life, just something that enhances their day.”

People who have been stranded in the streets for months make their way towards the camps in Dunkirk and Calais - often with very few of their own belongings.

Volunteers, like Mr Cartwright, will drop everything to ensure they can have a dry and warm place to sleep at night.

He said: “On one day, we distributed in Dunkirk, came back and finished the days work but then we got a message to say another five families had just arrived at 8 o’clock in the evening.

“This meant we had to go back to Dunkirk, with the sunset about an hour away the last thing we wanted was families to be wandering the streets and having no shelter at all.”

This is all part and parcel of being a volunteer in Calais.

“When you’re working in Calais, if there is an opportunity to help it’s a wasted part of the trip if you don’t take the opportunity.”

The situation in Calais, Dunkirk, and Greece is not one that can be resolved in the short-term with quick fix solutions.

During the peak of the European refugee crisis, more than 2.8 million people crossed into Europe.

Although this figure dropped by 92 per cent in 2018, there are still thousands of people in camps across the continent.

Mr Cartwright believes that the way to help these people who have fled civil war, poverty and despotism is by making changes to the way asylum applications are processed in the UK.

Allowing people to apply for asylum from anywhere in the world, rather than when they get to the UK, would drastically reduce the number of people making the perilous journey across the oceans and continents that often bears no results.

He commented: “I would urge people to write to their MP and ask that some system be set-up so that people who need to claim asylum can start the process from wherever they are in the world rather than having to risk their lives for months on end in all sorts of horrific ways just to be allowed to ask.

“We know that many people who get to the UK then get a chance to prove that they do have a very good reason for needing to be away from home and to be here.

“But the dangers they have to go through to get here are horrific and so we really need to try and get our MPs to campaign to make sure that people can apply for asylum and say ‘I’m here and I need help’ before having to make that dangerous journey.”

Syria, South Sudan, and Afghanistan are still struggling with internal problems which are affecting the security of the people who live there.

Although the so-called Islamic State has been mostly wiped out in Syria, it remains ravaged by civil war with flattened buildings and little solid infrastructure to support returning refugees.

Mr Cartwright commented: “From what I understand, large swathes of the country have been reduced to rubble and coupled with that ISIS may not be there but there is still a civil war going on in Syria.”

“It’s such an incredibly unstable place, it’s not just that it’s not safe for living there but we often hear calls for people to stay at home and fight for their country.

“There are so many different factions all fighting each other, I don’t know how it would be even possible to know how exactly you would be fighting for rather than against your country.

“Even then, the people who choose not to fight seem like peaceful people and therefore exactly the kind of people that we would quite like to have in our country.

Groups such as Carlisle Refugee Action Group and AWAZ Cumbria who help local refugees need support from members of the public in a variety of ways - language support or simply friendship.

“We’re always happy to have volunteers helping with settling refugees in Carlisle, or they can email to say when they are available and anyway they think they might be able to help.”

Nicole Cottingham, community development worker for AWAZ Cumbria, said: “The refugee families I’ve come to know in Cumbria have shown me such warmth and hospitality and are eager to build a new community here.

“Some of the best ways you can help the families in Carlisle to feel welcome is to exchange a smile or handshake, get to know them, invite them to gatherings, take them up on their offers of hospitality and (if you feel able) reciprocate.”