BrisDoc Community Fund visit Calais Refuge Camp
On Saturday 23rd January, two members the BrisDoc Community fund, Dr Alex Shaw and Dr Mike Taylor set off for the Channel Tunnel, on route to the Calais Refuge Camp in a people carrier packed, full to the brim of medical supplies, clothes, shoes and fruit.
Below are extracts of their experiences and findings.
“The camp is rather like the shanty towns of many of the poorest third world cities, but with more puddles and mud and the building material is all plastic tarpaulin rather than corrugated iron. However the human spirit is by its nature entrepreneurial, and all sorts of small shops have sprung up, selling the basics. We visited a delightful place called “the three idiots” run by three guys from Peshawar. Excellent sweet chai.
About halfway down the main street we came to the group of caravans used by Refugee Support First Aid. One is for dentistry and other three for minor illness and injury. After a briefing, which was mainly about the measles outbreak and scabies, we went on a brief tour of the camp.
After that we got stuck into seeing some patients. Most of the refugees have scabies and other types of infestations acquired from damp, dirty bedding. There were lots of minor cuts, lots of coughs and colds, but surprisingly in our session not much D&V. There is a good supply of clean water dotted around the camp, and lots of porta-loos.
We then set off to find the Care4Calais Warehouse so that we could drop off all the fruit and clothes. The warehouse was full of volunteers coordinating supplies of every description including food to help with the five thousand or more meals produced on a daily basis. There were some extraordinary people there. John Sloan with a background in logistics, now retired, who ran the whole warehouse operation, and Roxanne Courtney who after working for VSO has put off going back to university and has been working fulltime for months for no income whatsoever.
Back at the camp we continued to explore, help in the First Aid caravans, and attempt to reach our main objective, – working out how BrisDoc can be involved. We bumped into Jeremy Corbyn twice as he marched stern-faced around the camp. It was clear the police presence was increasing as they prepared for a demonstration.
It was later in the afternoon when we found the Hummingbird group. They are offering first aid and basic primary care, an information service helping refugees to seek asylum, and a feeding centre. They have built an appropriate hut as a clinic, and have started to form a working partnership with MSF. We soon realized that they would be an excellent partner for BrisDoc to work with and decided to take conversations further the next day.”
Since getting back from Calais three weeks ago Dr Alex Shaw & Dr Mike Taylor have been in active discussion with Hummingbird. They have discussed how we should work with Hummingbird at the BrisDoc Community Fund meeting, and agreed we would make a donation to the group and facilitate BrisDoc Clinicians registering to work with them.
Have a look at the Hummingbird on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hummingbirduk/
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