Some of the children from Calais have been brought to Devon. Some quarters of the British press have, of course, had a field day screaming about how they’re not welcome and how the locals have been up in arms. But that’s by no means a complete or accurate story. There have been a minority of people protesting, but the much larger response has been one of welcome and compassion. It seems to me that these good news stories need repeating. We could do with some cheer in, what so often these days, seem like dark times. It’s also important not to let the haters have control of the narratives.
You may have heard that up to 70 child refugees have been temporarily settled in Devon. Indeed, refugees between 16 and 18 years old from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Pakistan and Eritrea are currently in the community in which I live, North Devon, near a town called Great Torrington.
We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome these young refugees to our area, and the solidarity with which our community has acted to make them welcome is truly heart-warming, and only right. Indeed, Devon Country Council says it has been “inundated” with compassion since their arrival, with retired and current health professionals offering medical assistance, and others offering language skills and translation, as well as sports and other activities.
Local facility The Plough Arts Centre has offered free film screenings to the organisation responsible for the refugees, and is currently acting as drop-in centre for locals to provide aid. Indeed, The Plough has had to stop taking donations for the youngsters as it has ran out of space.
Dave Clinch, local resident and volunteer at the centre told me there has “easily” been four car and van loads of new – not second hand – clothing, footwear and other essentials delivered by local people in the past few days. “It has been very moving, people have arrived in tears bringing things in,” he added.
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