The experiences we had and the people we met in Calais over the coming months changed our lives. We did what was necessary to support people in that moment - hospital visits, advocacy, translation, clothing distributions, cups of tea, shopping - to try in any way we could to alleviate the trauma of being stuck at the border. During our visits to Calais and then Dunkirk, we prepared, cooked and shared food, music and poetry together with people from all around the world who soon became new friends. From our homes in Kent, just 25 miles away across the English Channel, we were travelling across as regularly as our finances would allow.
Late one evening in early 2016 we got a call from one of our friends who had made it to London. It was not our place to ask the details. Every crossing to reach UK soil often means risking one's own life. We know of people who travelled in the back of freezer lorries and others holding on to the chassis underneath lorries for hours with frostbitten hands. But it is not possible to claim asylum unless you are actually on UK soil, thus people with a legal right under international law to be protected, including many children, were being shut out.
So with this in mind, we hosted a "welcome" weekend at our house for our new friends - as it should be - with great food, dancing, football, a trip to the beach, poetry festival and lots of laughter.