Barking and Dagenham anti-racism campaigners deliver aid to Calais refugees
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 May 2019
Anti-racism campaigners have made a mercy mission to France to offer aid to refugees.
The activists from the Barking and Dagenham branch of the campaign group, Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), crossed the Channel taking aid to people fleeing persecution and holed up in Dunkirk last week.
SUTR member Emma Davies said: “It was really positive to deliver aid and solidarity but the flip side was that most of the refugees we saw are living in woods with little shelter or clothing.
“This was about helping to save people's lives and part of the fight to open the borders to let refugees in.”
The group made the trip in a bid to raise awareness and keep the issue in the public eye.
Emma added that since the Calais Jungle migrant and refugee encampment was demolished in October 2016 many people believe the crisis is over, but it isn't.
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During the trip, SUTR members met refugees - some of whom had spent eight to 12 months travelling on foot across Europe in the hope of finding a home in Britain.
“Everybody we met was educated at least up to secondary school. The reason they had to leave their homes was because they would face death or imprisonment back in their own countries,” Emma explained.
The one-day mission was supported by the National Education Union and included Barking and Dagenham Council deputy leader, Cllr Saima Ashraf.
Emma, a music teacher who had taught English to people living in the Jungle camp, was part of the battle to stop the far-right BNP party taking over at the Town Hall at the May 2010 local elections.
The party, which had been led by Nick Griffin who failed to unseat Dame Margaret Hodge in the national vote, lost all 12 of its seats on the council.
The Barking and Dagenham branch of SUTR was set up in January to continue the legacy of what Emma described as a brilliant campaign.
“We want to say we're a multicultural community and that's what makes us amazing in Barking and Dagenham,” she said.
The group plans next to join a march on June 4 against President Donald Trump's visit to the UK.