A year ago today I made my first trip over to the Calais jungle. Part of the trip was spurred on by some really really racist and hate filled comments about the human beings living there, from people I have to see every day. So I decided to look into it deeper and find out more.
I am so glad I did. As I had lived in fear before, as fed to me by the gutter press and it had never really occurred to me to question the situation before. But it has completely opened me up as a person and enriched my life. I am so much more socially and politically aware and am able to pass that mantle to my kids who, let's face it, have got a hard job ahead of them.
I no longer live in fear of the things I simply just didn't know about, I took the time to learn more and I am so grateful I did.
The lack of compassion and understanding from so many people, and the lack of effort people are prepared to put into looking at the situation deeper and educating themselves (and maybe making themselves less fearful) knocked me sideways. It really made me question many things I thought I knew, and people I thought I knew.
Consequently, a whole wave of amazing new people have entered my life - Brits, and people from far flung countries I would never have had the chance to meet before. The variety of countries the Facebook Fiends tagged here come from or are living in, is amazing. The people I have met have blown me away. From the refugees who have shown such bravery, such honour, such gentleness and gratitude ( like the 14 year old girl who watched her 3 siblings die during 10 hours struggling in Turkish waters, who hugged and comforted ME) to the kindness and the sacrifice of the volunteers who've been prepared to do everything they can to help others.
The division between those that 'do' and those that 'won't' seems to have got wider and I am ashamed at the behaviour of a lot of my countrymen. But I am also deeply, deeply proud of so many. And I have some friends now that I think, hope, will be friends for life.
The situation hasn't gone away, only the attention. In fact, if anything it has got worse. I needed some time off to get well and get my business back on track but I'm close to the finishing line then I will be turning my attention back towards those lost, hungry, cold frightened souls that need our help. I encourage you to do the same, even if you cant do it yourself, support someone tagged in this message, don't look away, look into it, in making someone else life just a tiny bit better, you might well make your life a whole lot better.