At crisis point – why I had to help stranded refugees

THIS summer will be remembered for photos of children on the beach – not my own two building sandcastles but of drowned refugees washed ashore.

My Facebook timeline is filled with pics posted by proud parents of their precious kids’ first days at school interspersed with the gut-wrenching images of youngsters the same age whose lives are over before they’ve even begun.

In a world where we’ve become desensitised to so much suffering I can’t bear to look at those photos, to say they are harrowing or distressing doesn’t even come close.

Because that Syrian toddler dressed in shorts and t-shirt who looks like he’s sleeping in the shallows could be my three-year-old toddler and my heart lurches at the thought.

I bet that little boy, like mine, enjoyed standing on tables, jumping on beds and had being tickled. I bet that little boy, like mine, was never still on a beach. That’s what makes that photo of Aylan Kurdi, pictured above in the same clothes he died in, so hard to comprehend.

His parents were not hoping for an easy life on Benefit Street, they were fleeing for their lives in the most dangerous way possible and paid the ultimate price. His mum and brother perished too.

The Calais crisis has dominated the news all summer, many column inches have been devoted to why this is a refugee not a migrant issue and the initial rhetoric calling for the the army to be sent in to deal with the ‘swarms’ and ‘infestation’ has done a U-turn following those haunting pictures and is now appealing for compassion.

READ MORE: What happened at a donations collection centre

Guest blog post about taking donations to help refugees in Calais

In July Prime Minister, David Cameron, was blasted for dehumanising their plight by referring to asylum seekers as ‘swarms’ but, as the situations spirals and after a public backlash, he pledged on Friday that the UK will provide settlement for ‘thousands’ more Syrian refugees, but while Germany is taking in 800,000 we are reportedly only admitting an extra 4,000.

I’ve seen footage of the chaos at Calais and for unsuspecting lorry drivers and I in no way want to diminish how frightening and intimidating their passage might be but the refugees are desperate and having nothing else to live for.

That’s why I felt compelled to help.

While politicians have dragged their heels and ruminated on the UK’s immigration policy, people all over the country have taken action in the their own hands.

The Facebook campaign, North-East Solidarity with Calais Refugees was set up in the region by Shah Lalon Amin and Jenni Yuill and in just three weeks it has more than 4,500 member and has raised more than £3,700.

After sending out a plea for donations to take to ‘Camp Jungle’, 39 collection points have been set up and from an initial aim to set off on September 18 with one car filled with aid it will now be sending nine vans.

Supporters have until this Thursday, September 10, to donate items but a Crowdfunder page has been set up to start planning a second trip later in the year.

The two friends said they have been overwhelmed by the support they have received. On their Facebook page Lalon posted: “This is simply humanity at it’s best, grassroots at it’s finest.

“We all have it within us to make a change rather than a simple Facebook emoticon with a tear, we can stand up and take direct action. We need to empower ourselves first if we are to help others.

“I believe in the goodness of people, I always have, I believe in people power, I always will. When Governments abandon their duty people must rise.”




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