Recalling the experience I had in volunteering at the camp is extremely difficult. The last few weeks have been some of the most profound, crucial ones I have yet experienced. I became aware of the fantastic organisation Crew for Calais about one month ago at one of their comedy nights at the Arcola to raise money for and awareness of the cause. As soon as I discovered the simple yet unsurpassable positive impact I could be part of in aiding the migrants living in several camps in and around Calais it was unquestionable that I would do whatever I could. 

My Journey 

I had very concrete ideas of what it would be like, mainly thanks to the media, before leaving for Calais and was very conscious that I would be arriving at some war-zone environment. My experience could not have been further removed from these ideas. The media seem to forget that these people are humans just like you and me, and I think it is easy to turn a blind eye to this particularly when they are displayed in a violent, anarchic light, but the reality is that these people are absolutely desperate for humanity to pull them from this terrifying state, and journalists/film crews are treating their homes as a spectacle and rightly they are reacting with anger and defensiveness. This portrayal is nothing like the truth of daily living on the camp. 

I met many people on the camp and never have I felt part of such a humble, appreciative community. What has been left of the camp after the destruction of 3,500 people’s homes by French authorities is initially heart-wrenching but also quite amazing in the ability to reconstruct a miniature society, as basic as its materials full of energy and love. 

It is not only work on the camp that is essential; behind the scenes is the backbone of the Jungle camp. My roles over the eight days of being in Calais were vast; a nearby warehouse contains thousands of boxes and glorious mountains of donations that all need to be sorted through in preparation for distribution on the camp, which happens daily by the volunteers. There is a great sense of community amongst the team of like-minded volunteers; new faces appeared daily during my stay and people had travelled from absolutely everywhere, nobody really knowing exactly what had made them come, just knowing that it was absolutely necessary that they do. 

Most importantly, this short experience has grounded me, and my efforts to support the humanitarian aid are resultantly ongoing. I hope that the more people who are made aware of the vast opportunities will create a snowball effect of efforts. I urge anybody interested in lending an hour, a day or a month to take action and come together to give the press something to really write about.

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