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Critical Mass to Calais

Bikes beyond borders!

On August bank holiday, over 80 cyclists set off from Barnehurst station in London with a mission: to deliver bikes to people living in the ‘jungle’ camp at Calais with the hope of making their lives just a little easier. We were a group of passionate and motivated riders of all ages and mixed ethnicities, including a contingent from Wales. Our goal was action in the face of apathy.

The recent rise of the migrant and refugee crisis has been a wake-up call to the European West, usually so comfortable in its relative prosperity. The media’s political commentary of the humanitarian crisis on Europe’s borders has been shamefully ignorant. Its continued pandering to the wealthy with headlines positing that the thousands of economic migrants and refugees risking their lives for better living conditions in the UK are a mere hindrance to British holiday-makers or ‘the economy’, easily forgets that these ‘migrants’ are real people, desperate and dying daily. At the time of our ride, the term ‘migrant’ had gained political currency, being used to demean, dehumanise and make ‘other’ the human suffering on our doorstep.

Thankfully, not everyone sees the world through the narrow lens of the elites who run our political and media systems. In the face of such injustice and dehumanisation, thousands of ordinary people felt the attacks on those at the borders as attacks on ourselves, on our common humanity. In response, a huge wave of people came forward to help in their own DIY fashion: riding bikes to donate; building wood-burning stoves; Just-Giving raising thousands of pounds in a matter of days; and numerous collection points and convoys for donated goods making their way to the Calais camp with surprising speed and efficiency.

The humanitarian crisis is far from over. Refugees and migrating people continue to flow into Europe with nowhere to go but onwards, and we are still a long way from achieving a political solution.

With climate change and violent conflict continuing to affect living conditions in the Near East, people’s migration should no longer be seen as an anomaly but as a fact of existence for our unequal global society. We must therefore continue to organise in our communities. We are the welcome committee and we must stand with migrating peoples of all nations, open our doors to them, and offer our world a positive vision of human kindness.

Organising donations and fundraising events in your community is a good way to show support; petition your council to allow provision for refugees – Ceredigion has become a ‘Trailblazer Authority’; sign petitions online urging our government to do more; stand up for humanity: whatever you can do, don’t wait, just do it.

Organisations which need your support: