This afternoon I took all 25 volunteers to the Dunkirk camp, and the whole journey there I couldn’t help thinking I’d made a mistake. Dunkirk is a very changeable place, so we never know how many people we will see. I couldn’t help thinking I’d brought too many people; we were going to overwhelm the site and there wouldn’t be enough jobs for all the volunteers to do so. But I was so wrong!
We had such a busy afternoon – at one point I counted three separate football games and a big cricket match down on the main thoroughfare. Haircuts were happening all afternoon, and everyone came for a tea or coffee (or two!) and a biscuit. The games tables were all full, the English lessons were popular, and everyone was charging their phones and using the wifi. We had children on site today too, and they drew us pictures and joined in with the football.
We even had a scraped knee which some of our amazing volunteers who are nurses were able to patch up for the brave boy.
The children also went away with new clothes, but seeing them in the pretty new coats that we know they’ll be wearing to cross the freezing Channel in the middle of the night is a stark reminder of why we’re here.
Most importantly I sent 10 volunteers around the living sites to distribute our flyers about Rwanda.
These flyers are the crucial link that enable the asylum seekers to make contact with our legal team when they arrive in the UK to prevent them being sent to Rwanda. I loved hearing so many volunteers passionately speaking to the refugees about how awful this policy is, and how we are here to help them. By the end of the day everyone in the camp was holding a flyer!
Dunkirk is also the kind of place where the community gives back to us, and today that was in the form of haircuts and sandwiches. We take these as a sign of thanks that Care4Calais are always here and looking out for them, and it makes us even more determined to carry on doing what we do here.