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West Berkshire volunteers go to "hell on earth" to support Dunkirk refugees

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Pair offer support at growing Dunkirk camp

WITH winter now upon us and the nights getting colder, two West Berkshire women travelled to Dunkirk at the weekend to volunteer at the growing refugee camp, which has been described as “hell on earth”.

Lindsey Middlemiss, from Newbury, who set up West Berks Action for Refugees and Lisa Ramsey, from Tilehurst, both crossed the channel to offer support at the Grande-Synthe camp which has swelled in numbers recently to around 2,000.

Ms Middlemiss said on her return: “What struck me most was how lovely the people were. The camp at Dunkirk is like hell on earth – 2,000 people, including children and babies crammed into what was a community park and picnic area, now ankle-deep or worse in mud.

“Families and groups of friends crammed into camping tents utterly inadequate for the weather. Sick children and babies, adults sick and injured, some seriously so. No medical tent. No respite from the mud. A constant battle to simply survive.

“And yet they greet you with ‘Hello. Good morning. You want chai? Come share food.’ We got invited to so many meals cooked on tiny campfires. Children would share what chocolate or fruit they had been given.

“Whenever I felt disheartened by the despair of their situation, they would lift me up, cheer me up. And what most of them wanted more than anything was someone to be with them, to sit and drink tea and talk about football or their children.”

West Berks Action for Refugees is next holding a Winter Aid collection day on Friday, from 10am to 6pm, at Thatcham Baptist Church.

Donations will go to Lesvos or Dunkirk. For a list of what is needed visit: www.westberksrefugees.org or West Berks Refugees on Facebook.

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