Join the Care4Calais appeal to ensure refugees have a warm winter coat
Vivek Lehal, HSUTR
- Credit: Joe Giddens/PA
I received a text message on December 1 from a friend of mine who is volunteering with Care4Calais, a charity working with refugees in northern France.
“It is bitterly cold in Calais tonight with a biting north wind. We have hundreds of refugees in scattered small camps in the undergrowth, huddled in tents, if the police have not taken or slashed them. About 150 are under the canal bridges in town. Others are under the overhanging roofs of closed shops and a sports centre or in derelict shells of old industrial buildings. The cops harass them every day. We are taking out firewood, warm clothing and food every day.”
Over the last few years Haringey Stand up to Racism has taken several delegations to Calais taking aid to the refugees there; Haringey councillors have been part of these delegations. Every time I am humbled by the refugees I have met. Humbled by their warmth, by their lack of bitterness at being forced to become refugees – almost all have left countries featured in the Global Peace Index of the most dangerous war zones in the world – and humbled by their optimism for the future. I have met doctors, teachers and engineers, professionals who could make a valuable contribution to this country. Most are multilingual, speaking at least two languages. All have a connection to the UK, usually a family member. And yet they are stuck in a bureaucratic limbo; having a legal right to make an asylum claim in the UK, but, with no safe legal route to get here to make that claim. Unable to complete their journey to these shores, unwanted in France where they face terrible racism.
This year, again, Haringey Stand Up to Racism will be supporting the Care4Calais winter appeal to ensure the refugees they work with have a warm winter coat and we urge you to do the same. But, more than that, join us in campaigning for the rights of refugees both those striving to get here and those who have already done so.
- Vivek Lehal is from Haringey Stand Up to Racism.