On Sunday 11 February, I set off for Calais as part of a delegation of 11 comrades from Tottenham Labour Party and Stand Up to Racism. We made our way to Care4Calais warehouse around midday. There were over 100 volunteers who had gone over from the UK. We took a van full of winter clothing from Haringey. Thanks to everyone who donated clothes from Haringey Labour Party, my family and friends.
We received our briefing from Care4Calais volunteers and proceeded to a distribution point known as the ‘Eritrean roundabout’. Around 100 Eritrean young men were sleeping rough in the area under bridges and in the woods. They have little access to food, shelter or medication. With Care4Calais volunteers, we set up a generator enabling the young men to charge up their mobile phones. We also gave them cups of tea, some refreshments and packs containing warm clothing and dry snacks.
We spoke to some of the young men. They each paid on average five to six thousand dollars to cross the Mediterranean. They were articulate and enjoyed the same things as any other young person. They were into football; mostly Man Utd fans but I did find one or two fellow Arsenal supporters.
It was a real eye opener to have had the opportunity to go out and see the plight of these young men who have been robbed of a bright future. They had no roof over their heads. They didn’t know where their next meal would come from or where they would go next.
In the afternoon, there was an event where some of the refugees spoke about their experiences back home. I made a short speech and handed over £2000 in cash to the founder of Care4Calais. Thank you all my friends and family members who donated. You can still donate to Care4Calais: http://www.tinyurl/sutrx