Organisers of an appeal for the thousands of desperate migrants in Calais have said they are “overwhelmed” by public generosity.

Epping Supporters of Women and Children at Calais held collections yesterday and Monday (August 24) at the United Reformed Church in Lindsey Street.

Led by Amanda Herbert, Helen Corches and Nina Preece, the group collected vital items such as food, warm clothing, and sanitary towels as well as fundraising for a new women and children’s centre in the ‘Jungle’ - the makeshift camp housing migrants fleeing countries ravaged by war, extremism, political oppression or economic plight.

The items will be driven to Calais and given to groups on the ground for distribution.

“It has been an absolutely amazing response, we have just been overwhelmed and everyone wants to know what is going on,” said Ms Herbert, 42.

“There is a real sense that people actually care and want to help.”

She added: “The ultimate aim is to improve the living conditions that these poor people are having to face on a day-to-day basis, especially on a day like today.

“It must be awful.

“You have got to think about the conditions of where these women came from, a lot will be survivors of rape and torture.

“They need somewhere to feel safe.

“Living in a camp where they have not got a roof above their head and they are surrounded by lots of men, it might not feel safe.”

Any surplus clothes collected will be sold and the group has been meeting with businesses to raise more money and supplies, which will go towards building the new Jungle Women and Children’s Centre, a “haven” for those stuck in dangerous and unsanitary conditions as they seek a new life in Britain.

As well as meeting basic needs such as sanitation and warmth, the group has been collecting toys and decorations for the new centre.

“It is about trying to put a bit of normality into people’s everyday lives,” said Ms Preece.

“I think if people go there to the centre, it is giving them hope.

“They will see people have donated, there are these efforts going on.”

Katy Grange, 36, from Leigh-on-Sea, donated to the collection.

Helping to pack some of the 32 boxes collected by Monday afternoon with her three sons, she wanted those in Calais to know “they have not been forgotten.”

“There must be a lot of feeling that they are not wanted.

“To show a bit of human compassion can help people’s spirits.

“Ultimately, we do not want this to be long term… we cannot do anything in a grand scale but we can do this real thing to help.”

To donate to the fundraising, visit the JustGiving page.