Brentwood-based organisation Calais Light, which has been taking volunteers on weekend stints to support refugees in Calais for eight years, has gained official registration as a UK charity.
Founder Mary Stretch is delighted by the news. “I’m beyond happy,” she said. “It has taken two and a half years of application and amendments to achieve this. So many tiny pieces of a huge jigsaw were required to secure us full charitable status. It’s a wonderful moment for us all.”
The milestone, she says, is proof of the incredible dedication and repeated volunteering of hundreds of Calais Lighters. “Their commitment to our mission to help refugees has played a crucial role in helping us reach this exciting point in our journey.
“As a registered UK charity, we are now equipped to make an even greater impact on the communities we serve. This new official status opens up new opportunities for increased funding, partnerships and resources that will enable us to increase the work we do in future to ultimately help more refugees in need. It also means that we can claim Gift Aid (and claim it retrospectively), which we are thrilled about!”
Achieving Registered Charity status is a real achievement reflected in the amount of time, policy-writing and evidence needed to meet the rigorous requirements of the Charity Commission, along with intense scrutiny and governmental checking of Calais Light’s partnerships and processes.
“Quite rightly the process is onerous and we are delighted that our efforts were finally successful. This makes us all the happier to share our new credentials as it places us in a strong position to accelerate our activity in Calais Light and deliver for those who need us. Our Registered Charity Number is 1206481.”
Mary expressed her gratitude for the ongoing commitment of those who volunteer with Calais Light. “Your belief in what we do is key to our success, and we are excited about the positive changes we can now bring about as a charity family. Let’s continue making a difference and changing lives!”