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Covid border crisis: Community aid effort for truckers stranded at Dover and on M20


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The community is pulling together to help stranded lorry drivers in and around Dover as Britain waits for France to reopen its borders.

Aid organisations have been walking the streets handing out supplies to the stricken souls who have been queuing since the Port of Dover was forced to close at midnight on Sunday for 48 hours.

Khalsa Aid has thousands of bottles of water for stranded truckers. Picture twitter
Khalsa Aid has thousands of bottles of water for stranded truckers. Picture twitter

KhalsaAid appealed to port bosses to help it distribute 1,000 bottles of water.

In a tweet to the Port of Dover it said: "Where can we meet your team to distribute this aid? We can do much more .. let’s work together."

The Salvation Army has reportedly been out and Kent County Council with the help of Kent Resilience Forum agencies, distributed snacks and drinking water yesterday ahead of drivers being able to access welfare facilities at Manston as part Operation Brock planning.

The authority stressed the importance of hauliers avoiding the county.

A spokeswoman said: "Though hauliers are routinely well prepared for disruption, while French borders remain closed it remains important that people avoid travelling to Kent."

Lorry drivers parked at Townwall Street in Dover need food, drink and toileting/showering facilities
Lorry drivers parked at Townwall Street in Dover need food, drink and toileting/showering facilities

The Salvation Army worked with the emergency services to provide welfare support at KCC's request.

A small team of staff and volunteers from The Salvation Army’s South East Division, using their incident response vehicle, worked for four to five hours up to midnight to deliver bagged meals to Kent Police for distribution to drivers in need.

Territorial Emergency Response Officer Adrian Clee said: “Our emergency response teams are well known for supporting people in times of hardship and are often called on by the emergency services to provide food, drink and support at large incidents.

"Salvation Army volunteers have been pleased to roll up their sleeves to support drivers caught up in the delays.”

Bill Hankin, manager of the Cliffs Court Hotel at East Cliff said: We've let the drivers use our toilets and left keys in reception for that.

The Salvation Army's volunteers were pleased to roll their sleeves up. Picture The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army's volunteers were pleased to roll their sleeves up. Picture The Salvation Army

"We've tapped on their vehicle windows to tell them that we've also left tea, milk sugar and paper cups on the premises so they can help themselves.

"Those poor people are stuck and we don't know for how long."

Dover Marina Hotel has issued its WiFi code to help drivers nearby to connect to loved ones and call home.

Its Wheelers fish and Chip restaurant was open last night for take away serving hot drinks and laying music to keep spirits up. It's toilets were also open to drivers who had santisied.

Suresh Kumar Singh, manager of Dover Best Western Plus Hotel said: "We have helped the drivers by opening the Wheeler's Fish and Chip shop for longer hours. So they can buy food there from 7am to 11pm.

"We have also been able to provide rooms for the night for some of the drivers."

Suresh Kumar Singh, manager of Dover Best Western Plus Hotel
Suresh Kumar Singh, manager of Dover Best Western Plus Hotel

Today a member of management for the Sea Front Hotel, B&B, said: "If one of the drivers needs to use our toilet we'll agree but none of them have.

"We're only a B&B so we have just a kettle not an urn to make several cups of tea and coffee. Besides we can't get out to get supplies because routes are blocked."

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke said: "Our community spirit and generosity is one of our great strengths.

"However, we are ourselves in Tier 4 and must take exceptional care not to raise the virus transmission risk to drivers at this time.

“There is support available to drivers in the designated routes and lorry parks.

Sam Lennon reports on the situation at Dover

"Drivers trying to get to France should not enter Kent at all at the moment and if they do, they should be sticking to the supported routes. This will also help them to get the right information and enable better control of the traffic flows when the border re-opens.”

Members of the Kent Sikh community are also helping feed the stranded drivers and are handing out 800 hot meals.

Have you or your organisation been helping the crisis effort? Tell us about it here.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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