These conditions in Calais are unacceptable


The day after we return from Calais I have to work hard to not plummet into a well of deep despair. Because only yesterday I was speaking to people wearing wet jeans and flip flops in the rain. They were desperate for just a blanket or a tarpaulin as they knew the heavy rain was going to continue through the night. The police had taken their tents, food and phones away.

I can sit at home today looking out at the rain and I know Omar from Sudan, Amira and her children from Ethiopia and John from Afghanistan are still cold and wet.

One man shouted at the volunteers yesterday ‘It is alright for you going back to a house – you must have more tarpaulins for me?”

It amazes me that there is not more anger and desperate conversations during our time there.

Lisa cleaned the childrens’ muddy hands with wet wipes, Emma gave out some plastic bags for people to wear on their feet, I chatted to a man who shivered so much he couldn’t hold his tea.

It takes a while to process these harrowing scenes and try and get back to place of gratitude for my warm, dry, safe privileged life – but this is the best thing I can work on today so I can go again next month and try and make a minuscule difference for a few more days.

– Emma Naysmith volunteer

To help people in Calais survive the winter go to

To volunteer in Calais email [email protected]

If you’re in the Bath area and interested in volunteering in Calais, go to

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