LEDBURY people will be making regular mercy runs to the French refugee camps this winter, over genuine fears it is only a matter of time before people start to die there, in the mud and cold.

One van has just returned to Ledbury, and another van from Ledbury is set to go "imminently", with items that could mean the difference between life and death in the coldest, darkest time of the year.

Ledbury mum, Natalie Penny of Challenger Close, and her partner Doug Tolson, both members of the Ledbury Refugee Support Group, spent five days at the camps last week.

She said: "There isn't a word that can give the conditions out there justice. It's such a desperate situation that we were shocked to the core.

"We managed to feed forty nine people which included two families. We distributed men's trousers, jumpers, moon boots, women's clothes, children's clothes and baby clothes. We bought milk and pregnancy vitamins for a pregnant women."

Natalie added: "The people living there are so kind and welcoming and so grateful for help. Yet they were ashamed at the same time. They don't want to be having handouts. They want safety and security for their families. People were tapping me on the shoulder from behind. Men and women asking questions about when they will next get a blanket. I didn't have an answer, apart from we will try, and I’m sorry."

Natalie said: "I'm the mother of a three year old, Phoebe. There are children and babies in the camp. if it was the over way round, I would hope someone will help me, absolutely."

The next Ledbury Support Group run will be in December, because the group feels that the situation, especially at the Dunkirk camp, where 1000 refugees are living,"needs imminent action".

Now Ledbury Support group has launched a fresh appeal, for Wellingtons and waterproof boots, for tents, sleeping bags and blankets, before winter really bites.

Natalie and Doug recorded their experiences last week on a blog, and some of the sights will haunt them forever.

She wrote: "When we arrived back I was walking through the mud and rubbish to a tent and a baby was really crying. A mother pulled the tent door back and she was breastfeeding him; a beautiful thing, surrounded by hell."

But there were positives to take away from the experience.

Malvern Refugee Support Group members were also there, "and they managed to install a wood burner in the newly built community centre; a very welcomed gift."

There is no electricity and fires are breaking out in tents, because the refugees are using candles.

Running water is scarce or non-existent.

Richard Hadley, "I don’t think anybody has any idea how awful things are in the camps, particularly Dunkirk. Soon, people will be dying there."

Despite the recent attacks in Paris, which reveals that some terrorists and posing as refugees to get into Europe, the Ledbury Refugee Support Group believes that local people have not and will not turn their backs on the genuine refugees, of which there are thousands.

At Dunkirk, the refugees at present at mainly Kurdish, from war-torn Iraq.

Natalie said: "Regarding the Paris attacks: these terrorists were not all middle eastern. Most of them were French nationals. A lot of terror is home grown. We cannot give in to fear. Fear is weak. We must have hope and there is always hope."

Ledbury Refugee Support can be contacted on, 07973 401860.

Natalie's Blog from the camps can be read at, http://www.ledburyrefugeesupport.com/blog/horrors-and-love-in-calais-and-dunkirk