This week Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum visited the Calais refugee camp with Help Refugees.
For Sophie this was her second visit with us (click here to read about her first visit), and as a mother of young children herself she wanted to spend some time reading books to some of the younger children in the camp. The Unofficial Women and Children’s Bus, which is supported by Help Refugees, hosted a story telling hour on the top deck. Sophie read around six children’s book to 15 children ranging in ages from one to ten. She also brought along the Enormous Crocodile puppet from the book by her grandfather Roald Dahl which the young kids very much enjoyed playing with. After story telling and an impromptu “Let It Go” singalong Sophie left the bus and spent time with a mother of three and her young children, hearing about their experiences.
Meanwhile Jamie spent an afternoon with his bandmates in the camp’s Youth Centre, another project Help Refugees supports, creating a fun and interactive music workshop for the young unaccompanied teens in the camp. The boys were a little shy at first but soon joined in, and Jamie told us later that it soon descended into a full two hour jam session!
Jamie and Sophie finished their day by sitting in a makeshift shelter, meeting with two unaccompanied Syrian teens who are friends from school that had made it to Calais independently. Both have family in the UK and a legal right to be here. We are working with Citizens UK to make sure their cases move swiftly. The boys talked about their love of football, and Jamie and Sophie shared stories about their own lives too. The meeting was a part of a programme pairing unaccompanied children with people in the UK, reassuring them that there are people here looking out for them.
The day was poignant and at times incredibly sad, but also full of hope. And both the younger children on the bus and the older teens in the youth centre said how much they enjoyed the day.
We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.
Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!