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Boots without Borders

What is the Calais camp like?

Any attempt I make to describe the camp does a disservice to the people there. I can't believe that people live like that anywhere in the world, let alone on a UK border. It's chaotic.

To put it another way, it's exactly what you'd expect 6000 people living in ridiculously overcrowded conditions on a dump in cheap tents and under tarpaulins to be like. There's no proper organised waste disposal service, the toilets are few and far between and filthy. Most residents rely on the free food provided by small groups of aid workers because no government will recognise the issue as a humanitarian crisis. For most of us, that's unimaginable. I don't think pictures or descriptions do it justice. Having seen it in person, I still can't compute it.

These pictures show some of the structures along The Jungle's "high street". The areas where people sleep stretch for acres behind them.

In the main, "official" aid agencies aren't there, and the French and British governments just want the residents to go away. The camp is growing rapidly, and even YouTube videos from just a few weeks ago don't show the scale of the problem.

Most of the people there are male, and a lot of them are teenagers. Many British and French people regard them with fear and anger and in this respect they are one of the most unloved populations on the planet. It's easy to regard them as a baffling mass of anonymous humans, but soon I started to notice how similar they were, in age and attitude, to my own children. I found that very difficult to handle.

I hope you agree that tough, warm, waterproof boots will make things better for the people there. I hope you will help me get them.