Camilla Thurlow, HuffPost ‘New Activist’ and star of Love Island, visits Calais

Camilla Thurlow, explosive ordnance disposal expert and star of Love Island 2017, has continued to support Help Refugees with a recent trip to Calais and Dunkirk.

Camilla’s involvement with our work began in the late summer. Soon after she and boyfriend Jamie Jewitt left Love Island, they visited a number of our partner projects in Greece. From preparing nutritious meals with the Soul Food Kitchen to assisting Intervolve in Larissa Camp, they were fully immersed in the volunteer effort – and used their new-found platforms to raise awareness of the situation faced by refugees in Greece.

More recently, Camilla has been selected to feature in Huffington Post’s docu-reality series, New Activists. It profiles the daily lives of five young campaigners, and Camilla’s episodes have documented her trip to Northern France.

Camilla joined Help Refugees and our partner projects, the Refugee Community Kitchen and the Refugee Youth Service, in Calais and Dunkirk. 

Calais’ physical landscape continues to be characterised by the £2.4 million wall, funded by UK taxpayers, that encircles the port; as Camilla notes, that cost could have easily relocated every unaccompanied minor who was living in the Jungle at the time of its demolition.

During her visit, Camilla did everything from washing up, to sorting and distributing warm clothes, to clearing the draining system around the water point in Dunkirk – certainly not the most glamorous jobs, but all absolutely crucial to aid operations.

She also accompanied the Refugee Youth Service’s outreach service, and led a letter writing exercise with some of the young people. During her trip, she met a twelve year old boy being looked after by his two thirteen year old friends. Annie Gavrilescu, Northern France Regional Manager for Help Refugees, noted that such a situation is not new: in the Jungle, for example, a nine-year-old boy took care of his eight-year-old nephew.

Camilla noted the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors left exposed to both the elements, due to the lack of shelter, and the threat of violence and exploitation.

“I wish I could do justice to [the situation],” she said, “because if you had seen this, you would never want it to happen…We have to get those children out of there as soon as possible.”

We’re so incredibly grateful to Camilla for visiting our projects, for her help during the trip, and for using her new platform in a way that benefits refugees and the organisations working to support them. You can see her most recent video below, or watch all of her episodes here.

Thank you, Cam, for all that you’ve done for Help Refugees – we really are so grateful for your support!

As winter approaches, we need your help more than ever. The cold weather brings with it a host of challenges, from an increased need for medical support, to the need for insulation and warm bedding. If, like Camilla, you feel moved by the situation and are able to give your time or support, you can find out more about volunteering or donate here. Thank you.