By Jane Grimshaw

Today, 11 November, was a day we were hoping wouldn’t happen. It’s cold here in Hastings but it’s even colder at sea. At around 12.20pm we received the first of a steady stream of messages and calls. The Hastings RNLI had rescued 53 men, women and children from a dinghy in the Channel.

Conditions in Northern France are intolerable for refugees, and people are desperate to get away before they are forced to spend the whole winter there.

Because of the support of the people of Hastings we were able to mobilise our team and be on site within 20 minutes of that first message, offering a warm welcome, support, warm clothing, blankets and supplies.

Local business played their part in today’s operation. One Old Town pub responded with trays of chips, and a café with hot drinks, all without charge. Hot food and drinks are an essential part of any first response.

The refugees we spoke to were from Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Kuwait and China (a Uighur).

None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the ongoing support of the people of our town.

We have supplies of warm clothing and funding in place to re-stock our essentials of snacks, drinks, pants and socks.

So we want to take this moment to thank you all for making this possible and to wish a very warm welcome to everyone we were fortunate enough to meet today.

Jane Grimshaw is founder of the Hastings Supports Refugees group, co-chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary, and co-ordinator of the response team. This report was first posted on the HSR Facebook page and is reproduced here with permission.

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