Just returned from Calais. Lots and lots of people with no shoes. In the pissing rain. Only flip flops. No tents. No coats. There is no "camp". No "Jungle". It was burned down in 2016 by the authorities. I got home and saw my flip flops and so many images came up. A teenager with a head injury. He had fallen off a lorry and lost consciousness briefly earlier, forced to risk his life to try to reunite with his family in the UK. There is no safe, legal route to get here. No. Safe. Legal. Route.... His friends were asking me how to get medical help, and shepherded him off to A and E, steering him protectively. A thin, thin, older man in light clothes and a sodden caghoul, shivering in line, waiting for boots. A middle aged guy rolling up his trousers to show one leg bigger than the other and scarred from beatings. A little girl chatting and giggling with volunteers. And again that bottomless sinking feeling of locking eyes with someone as they tell you their story, and really getting it. Fully actually realising. Oh my God I can't change this for you. You. Are. Stuck. Here. And you can't go back. For a fixer and a problem-solver and a control-freak like me that's absolutely fucking heart-breaking. Veuillez m'excuser ma français.
In the comments below are some links.
1. If you think this shouldn't be happening, apparrently one of the most effective things you can do is write to your MP. Even better is to offer to meet them. I have just done this. If you live in the East Riding and want to join me then please get in touch. The government has an obligation legally to bring child refugees here. Please ask them to fulfill that obligation. Safe Passage easy peasy email template attached in comment.
2. If you want to do something locally then I'm proud to say I'm part of an absolutely brilliant little charity (Hull Help for Refugees) who are always happy to welcome new volunteers so I will attach their link
3. Also we gave out over 200 pairs of boots. Good quality, new, waterproof boots. But the line of people waiting seemed to stretch just as far into the distance as when we started. When we had to shut the van doors there were a lot of disappointed and very wet people still left in their sodden trainers and flip flops. Care4Calais go on distribution every day. They are shit-hot at everything they do. The efficiency, organisation, planning, compassion, dedication, everything. They are highly respected and trusted amongst the people they serve. And their underlying philosophy is not just to give out aid but to campaign to get the situation changed. Their link is below too so please have a read of their wonderful myth-busting info about refugees, and don't be afraid to talk to people about this. We are in a toxic culture that blames the victims and ignores them. Let's not be silent about this... and consider donating or coming down to Calais to help out. It's easier than you think.
And it's always a mix of heart-break and real connection with the refugees. There is a LOT of laughter! People are so incredibly resilient in such absolutely appalling circumstances.
Those are my flip flops by the way.