Stand Up

Time to get back to blogging I think. The demands of looking after two children leaves me little time for anything, particularly blogging. But today I have something to say.

The recent events in the world are leaving me, as many others, very depressed, distressed and sad. The actions of our government leaves me ashamed. I was with everyone else last week emailing MPs, signing petitions, tweeting and sharing, trying to prevent our government’s actions in Syria. All in vain of course. I’ve spent quite a lot of time and money buying and sending things to help refugees, sending funds to charities on the ground in Greece and Calais, spreading word about how people can help. It’s not enough. It’s a drop in the ocean. But it’s something. I’ve gotten into so many arguments with people online with their right-wing opinions. I’m tired of it all. Every time the weather is awful outside my heart breaks thinking about all those refugees with no shelter. My Facebook timeline is constantly full of pictures of injured and dead children… I can’t even say anything about that. Words can’t describe. What can you say?

The whole situation is so depressing. What the fuck is wrong with our species?!

Anyway, yesterday I attended a meeting arranged by Stand up for Racism and others to discuss how we can help. There were speakers from Unite, a gentleman who was as asylum seeker from Eritrea (and if you don’t know about what’s going on in Eritrea I urge you to find out!), and other people from other organisations who are trying to help refugees and asylum seekers. Some of them are making regular trips to Calais with supplies. Their stories would break your heart.

I could talk for a long time about what was said in the meeting, but the thing that struck me the most was the talk about creating a “hostile” environment. This really got to me. You see, it’s actually been our government’s policy for quite some time to deliberately make our country as hostile as possible for refugees – supposedly to discourage more from coming. It doesn’t, of course. They will still come. But our government is determined to make it as unpleasant as possible for them while they are here.

So they deliberately make it difficult for refugees to access funds, housing and support. There was one story about a refugee lady in our town who was expected to walk, weekly, from our town to the next city, (a walk of about 24 miles!), to claim her benefit money and if she didn’t it was stopped. The charity Unite claimed that refugees who often do not speak English are given forms to fill in with no help at all, and again if they are not completed correctly their money is stopped. (In our town they now have a volunteer translator and they will provide free support for refugees for one year). Refugees are housed like the Victorian poor, cramped together in tiny houses forced to share rooms while their landlords make a fortune by cramming as many people as possible into their housing.

How is this acceptable?! Have we lost our humanity?! And this is after they’ve managed to get here. Because creating a hostile environment involves making it as difficult as possible to get here. Barbed wire fences, etc at Calais itself. The refugees will still come, they will just end up horrifically injured in the process. And we hear stories all the time of the refugees being injured trying to jump the fences and steal onto lorries passing through Calais. There is no medical centre in Calais. They limp back to camp and treat their injuries themselves.

These people are not pests! They are not vermin, as the Daily Mail and The Sun would have us believe. They are people, just like you and me. They are doctors and teachers, solicitors and University lecturers. They are fathers and brothers and mothers. They are PEOPLE. Imagine if we accepted them into our country and offered them employment. Wouldn’t these people work their socks off?! It’s shameful. Absolutely shameful.

I am ashamed to be a member of “fortress” Britain. I’m ashamed to live in “fortress” Europe. Where walls are being constructed to keep out refugees from countries that WE destroyed! It’s a fucking disgrace.

That’s it. That’s all I have to say for now.

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