On Tuesday 9th August I went to see for myself the situation in Calais, and meet with volunteers and refugees at the camps to discuss progress on helping child refugees and the conditions at the camp. I also visited the Wilcumstowe Wagons, the caravans that residents of Walthamstow renovated in memory of Jo Cox, which are now offering shelter to refugees from countries including Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as Afghanistan.
Whilst I was at the camp, I made several videos about my trip which give direct testimony from those working there- you can find them all here:
- The Refugee Kitchen in Calais
- The Refugee Donations Warehouse
- Rev Malcolm Patten, Blackhorse Road Baptist Church Outreach
- SidebySide Refugee Caravan Project
- The Hummingbird Safe Space for Child Refugees Project
- Help Refugees Child Refugee Referral Project
It was an extremely frustrating experience, as it was clear from my visit that the conditions are dire and that the issues keeping those in the camp- including over 800 unaccompanied child refugees- are resolvable. Threats to evict refugees from the camps and the coming winter will make helping some incredibly vulnerable people even more difficult unless the UK Government honours the commitments made to assist. Here's my video response to the situation:
Following my visit, I have already written to the Home Secretary requesting to meet to discuss how this situation can be resolved and I will be working with campaigners to challenge the Government on the status quo, with a particular ambition that we act as a country so that no child is left in these camps by Christmas 2016.