It’s been a year almost to the day.

The Calais Jungle shut last October and SBS has continued supporting without engaging with field work so frequently. We talk, support and invest time in the wonderful people working on the ground, on the front line, day in day out.

Yesterday Ian and I returned to see first hand what the situation is like.

We arrived and dropped donations (so very very needed, the shelves are bare) and spent some time with the wonderful Freya and Liz. Freya spoke to us about how distribution is organised, how the kitchen is getting on, and what’s needed. Liz spoke to us about Utopia 56 and how they deliver aid. I sat with Stevie from the Refugee Youth Service so we could understand their remit, and saw that Refugee Info bus was still very much in action.

Uptopia 56 work alongside the larger food and item distribution teams reaching out to smaller clusters of groups, who for whatever reason, do not wish to go to the main area of distribution. The had clingfilm over their pans of hot water. We have used your financial donations to buy some urns. They can now transport more hot water for tea, over greater distance for a longer time.

We visited the old site. It was eerie. SO many memories, now torn up. It’s destiny is to be a nature reserve for birds. Free to fly. Ironic really.

We then went to see distribution in action. All the services convene under a pylon, not far from the original site of the Jungle. The youth service, kitchen and distribution teams patiently hand out aid and support. A bowser truck allows the guys to have a shower or fill a vessel with water. There is a small row of porta loos. Mainly men, only about 5 women were present. Mainly African refugees, but still some Afghans and a handful of other nationalities.

‘Mama, Mama, I remember you from the Jangle, I painted the church’ a huge smile on the face of a young man, Henok, I may have seen several times before comes to greet me. In excellent broken English we reconnect. He knows the people I know, we have 24 mutual friends on Facebook. His face beams as we look at the Facebook photos of his friends that have made it or left for elsewhere. He is the last one in his group. The veteran. He still

tries every night. He’s been there 3 years. My heart sinks.

‘Come and see where I live’ Henok says. We tramped across some grass to the edge of the woods. The was a sleeping bag on the floor, 2 blankets, the remnants of a fire. A Shrine. Mary, with a small bunch of flowers and a foil blanket over the top to keep it dry. 5 people ‘lived’ here. I was at a loss for words.

As we left a large group of Eritrean boys were having a dance off. There was whistles, clapping and cheers. These peoples strength astounds me.

SBS put some credit on Henok’s phone. We need to know he’s OK. Thanks for your support, without that I can’t keep in touch with him, the hot water can’t make the tea and the SBS arms can’t be wrapped round those who need us.

Today Paris.

Kat