From Salford to Calais

By Oct.25, 2015

CQ0KY9hWEAEx0wCWe did it! We planned it, we organised it, and we got it spot on. However, not in 1 million years could we have imagined what we would find there.

Seven vans travelled in convoy. Key 103 accompanied us for some accurate reporting. Justin from key not only reported on what we were doing, but he rolled his sleeves up and was just amazing.

The journey to Folkestone was tiring but straightforward. Police checks were over the top, but we think we need to bear in mind the security of all people who pass through borders. Non the less there was a strong sense that we were being stalled.

12108785_10153103803012805_7280576619915105924_nWe arrived at the camp. It was heartbreaking! The first person we came across was Mimi. A heavily pregnant Syrian lady who was just desperate for a drink of water. We gave her water. During a brief chat she explained how she had lost her family and was in the camp alone waiting to have her baby. We stood in the cold and rain whilst chatting and Mimi was more concerned about us getting wet and cold than she was about herself.

These people are not economic migrants but people part of human kind who need a better life than they had. We’ve said it all before – why would you risk your life just to get benefits from this great place – the U.K! You wouldn’t!

These people are poor and desperate beyond our imaginations. The camp is squalid. It is wet, muddy and very dirty, built on a flood plane which obviously causes problems. It is crowded and extremely busy. There are unaccompanied children running around seeking whatever attention they can get from the adults amongst them. Adults who naturally are trying to take care of them in the appalling conditions. Conditions we would not allow our pet dogs to reside in! However, the people are trying to make the best of a bad situation, churches have been set up by the refugees as well as Mosques in tents. Despite the awful experiences these people have been through, they are not giving up. They are doing their best. They are admirable.

11229553_10153509599875325_536741831331171621_nMany adults have scared hands where they have attempted to climb the fences. Calais – the port and the terminal looks like a high security prison. There is barbed wire in every direction, high fences and barriers to stop these people attempting to get to the U.K. However people told us how they will try daily to get across. A 14 year old boy told us he had lost all his family but he knew of an uncle in the U.K. He said he had tried time and time again to get across, he said he would rather die trying, and he won’t give up. Heartbreaking!

We made a trip to the warehouse to swap some of our aid for items that needed distributing urgently. The warehouse was chaotic and disorganised, but it’s to be expected – there are not enough people on the ground helping. John, the warehouse manager does an outstanding job but he needs help. Then there is the amazing Claire Mosley who has been one of our contacts since we started. Claire went to distribute aid herself a while back, her husband and family are still in the U.K. However, Claire has not returned. She has stayed all this time because she felt she could not leave, she needed to help. Claire is most definitely a massive help, and we were honoured when she asked us to return to help her.

We offloaded some of our aid and refilled with essential food parcels and toiletry packs we had made. We went back to the camp and distributed these to individuals. The items were well received. Everyone was grateful – the people looked us in the eyes and were sincerely thankful. As well as thankful the people we met were incredibly polite, warming and welcoming. They were particularly happy to receive hand written letters from pupils at Stretford High School. These letters genuinely appeared to make their day.

Shortly after one of our distributions we were approached by a man who asked us to take his two young daughters back to the U.K with us – he actually trusted us to take them in the hope that one day he would be reunited with them in the U.K
Imagine that! Being that desperate that you would entrust strangers to take your children.

We spent time with as any refugees as we could – we wanted to ensure some kind of personal approach, I think we achieved that. We listened, we laughed, we joked. We comforted people and answered as many questions as we could. We did our best and thanks to everyone who supported us whether that be with money, time or aid we absolutely made a difference – you made a difference.

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The things we saw and experienced during our time in the camp will stay with us for life, and we are already compelled to go back – there is so much more to do. This is just the start.
The main problem of the camp is that there is no one organisation in charge of helping with the suffering. There is no Christian Aid, Muslim Aid, Save The Children, The Red Cross etc. Organisations you would expect to see amongst a crisis on this scale, but they are no where to be seen.
This means we need to continue, you, me, us, all of us together because if we don’t, these people will die.

We’re going to spend the next few weeks doing more research, establishing more links, making plans etc. We will be back in touch very soon to share how you can help. Please stay with us – get in touch if you can help, and share what we are doing.

The following pictures are just a small selection of what we took yesterday. We have only shared pictures that people can not be identified on. The man with the child in the pink coat is the man that wanted us to take his children.

There are far too many of you to thank but you all know who you are. This could not have been achieved without all of you. Please stay with us we are going to need you again. Love to you all.

Shareen Denman

Level 5 student, School: Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work & Social Sciences.

Find out more

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/945273122200346/?fref=nf

Twitter: @salfordtocalais

Blog: https://salfordtocalais.wordpress.com/latest-news/


Posted in Meet our Students
4 Comments

4 thoughts on “From Salford to Calais

  1. Cristina says:

    Very powerful piece, it captures the daily struggles of people desperate to find a better life. I really applaud your initiative and efforts to help them. The images and whole situation is heartbreaking, hopefully more people will follow your footsteps giving a much needed hand to refugees.

  2. Emma says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and highlighting the fabulous work done by the Salford to Calais team. It must have been a harrowing and humbling experience. It’s truly awful that something like this could be happening on our doorstep

  3. Neil says:

    This is a great post about a difficult, but rewarding journey. The images hit home the true situation that people face. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Tyler says:

    Moving and inspirational blog about such heartwarming and positive action. Amazing work undertaken by amazing people, thank you!

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