There’s an old canal that runs through the town of Calais and some people live under the bridges that cross it. The bridges offer some very basic shelter at a time when it’s become hard to find anywhere to sleep in Calais. The authorities are putting boulders on some areas of open land to stop refugees from sleeping there.
This is a terrible way for people to live, cold and damp and constantly in fear of being moved on, so they were really pleased to see our volunteers who came to distribute boots and socks.
“Thank you,” one man said to me, showing me his old, tattered shoes and soggy socks underneath. “I have not changed my socks in four weeks. This will be much better for me.”
Altogether we gave out 150 pairs of boots and socks, which will make a huge difference.
People don’t always realise how much walking refugees have to do, not just on their journey from home but also once they reach Calais. They’re forced to trudge from site to site, from place to place as they look for people who can help them, and long distances to places where they may be able to find ways to cross to the UK. Doing that in wet footwear can lead to nasty skin irritations, infections and more serious conditions.
Our distribution will have meant that a lot of people had warm, dry feet for a while, and not those painful problems.