Mothers share their stories after bringing hope to Calais refugees

Lianne Kirkman and Anna Leeksma packing boxes. NNL-160214-191447009

Lianne Kirkman and Anna Leeksma packing boxes. NNL-160214-191447009

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A midwife and nurse have spoken of their experiences in the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp after helping to deliver aid and care to hundreds of desperate families at the border.

Leamington midwife, Anna Leeksma described the situation as “desperate” after watching tents be destroyed, fires break out and tear gas attacks as the make-shift camp is cleared by French police.

Midwife Anna Leeksma hands over  a teddy bear to a young refugee.

Midwife Anna Leeksma hands over a teddy bear to a young refugee.

She went out to help the refugees with Warwick nurse Lianne Kirkman.

Anna, who owns the Cotton Nappy Company, told the Courier that due to rising unrest when they arrived, they were not able to take supplies to certain areas.

“When we arrived on Monday we could not get in, there was a lot going on and reports of tear gas,” she said.

“Things calmed down a lot after that, it became like a ghost town. People mainly stay in their tents. They are too afraid to leave as they will be destroyed once they are empty.

Things calmed down a lot after that, it became like a ghost town. People mainly stay in their tents. They are too afraid to leave

Anna Leeksma

“Refugees are being forced out but want to stay close to the border. That is where the problems start and it seems that things get uneasy most afternoons when people return from washing or praying to find their tent is gone.”

Up to 5,000 refugees are hoping to seek refuge in the UK.

But French police are attempting to close much of the camp down and moving those who wish to stay to more permanent shelters to the north of the site. Lianne said after several days helping those in need, the signs of child trauma was one of the most troubling aspects.

The mother-of-two, who works with district homeless charities, said: “After everything they have been through, a lot are just trying to cope with trauma. A young boy threw himself under our moving van to try and get toys. Another was obsessed with fire and tried to spray an aerosol can and set me alight.”

It was absolutely terrifying, we just had to run.

“These children have seen things they never should have seen and it is very hard.

“They are people just like us, many highly educated doctors and engineers simply fleeing a war. For them the UK is hope.

“I do not now what the answer is but just hope that by putting some smiles on faces we have at least shown them that people are not the enemy.”

The group will continue to help with aid and supplies from Leamington. Visit the Facebook support group page to find out more on how to help.