My time in Calais

For months I have tried to put into words my experience and time spent in Calais. Even now I cannot truly express what I have seen and also learnt from everything I’ve experienced since the summer of 2015.

It all began back in the Summer of 2015 when the media started show daily coverage of the refugee crisis happening across Europe and right on within arms reach in Calais, which on a clear day I can say of the coast of Ramsgate, my home town. It dawned on me proactive action was needed and if the government was not going to proactively help then I should at least try and do whatever I could. Even then I did not know what that was going to involve but regardless something had to happen.

So one day just talking with friends we decided to just collect some donations from friends and family. We started a facebook group for those who were interested for East Kent to Calais. At first it just looked like friends and family were going to be involved. Then I created an event and that’s where it kick started, one share resulted in 100’s of shares. Within weeks we had 100’s of people offering help, donations and the main thing to hit me the amount of compassion. This same chain reaction was at the same time happening across the country with local groups popping up in most main towns and cities.

In my experience I met so many amazing people, donating what little they had to a such a cause. Also the amount of people offering their time to come and help in Calais. I have been part of convoys of volunteers going over to Calais and helping, and on many more times on my own just because that was what I could do just to help a little. I spent every single day off I had in Calais helping a charity there working in the warehouse, or out distributing donations to the people in camp. This continued for approximately 3-4 months, not one single day off yet I never complained even though the tiredness was there. For 2 days each week on my days off I could make a difference, for those 2 days I allowed someone to smile even just for a moment. It is truly amazing to see what giving even just a jumper to someone can do, a jumper?? something me and you take so much for granted.

I worked alongside many amazing volunteers, those who travelled with me on weeks and those I met in Calais. There are a group of amazing “long term” volunteers, many of which have given up their jobs and lives to help those in need. I am truly in awe of these guys they work day in day out and yet you never see them complain. They get up and help each single day making a difference each single day. These people I will never ever forget and will have memories of them until the day I die. Not just of the good times we had every time I was there but of the true human compassion every one of them had.

The camp itself is something I never dreamed I would see or have to see in the likes of Europe. The conditions are poor, wet and cold with very little but what we can give. Yet there is so much resourcefulness, the things people can do when they have nothing is truly inspiring and something I will never forget. The people as well are the most amazing people I have ever met. Every time I visit I always make sure to stop by a small group of Sudanese who fled tyranny and war. They always smile and they are always so welcoming, they offer me their last biscuit and make me the most amazing coffee every time even though they have so little to give. Their stories and experiences are something I would never wish on anyone, yet they remain hopeful and strong willed.

Now I could write a story on day to day life and each of my experiences in Calais, but I shall not. I will never forget the true compassion the people of Kent gave me when I asked for donations and to the vast amount of people I still keep in contact with. It was an amazing, stressful experience and something I cannot express my gratitude more for. Also to the people I met in Calais such amazing work being done every day and still being done. Hopefully soon to return myself and again help provide that smile to another person even if just for a minute

In solidarity we have been but our compassion shines bright!!!






What we stand for

Lib Dem Bird1

I was requested to write this blog to show my perception on what the Liberal Democrats stand for.

Now what a party stands for can be monotonous and dull for many and we all see the same videos, newspaper articles, leaflets, tweets and facebook posts and just yawn each time. In modern politics all people seem to focus on is the ideology of which party is ‘left wing’ ‘right wing’ or ‘centrists’

Many will argue that the Liberal Democrats are centrists with the tendency for leaning to the left. I argue that is not the case and actually as a party we are probably the most diverse party that is in mainstream English politics. Not because we are to the centre of all things political but because actually all our members are all over the spectrum, and do you know what, that is what a true Liberal is. We make our own decisions based on what we feel is right, not because that is what our party thinks we should think.

A liberal person will know that they should stand for what is right no matter how big or small the issue is, or whether someone thinks its ‘right wing’ or ‘left wing’ policy. If it is the right thing that we as individuals feel is right we make sure our voice is heard and stand for that, now that is what a Liberal is.

We all have our own opinions on things that matter to us, we might not all agree on every single subject but we value that each and every one of us has an opinion.

What has really inspired me as a member of the Liberal Democrats is that everyone is an open book to what they believe is right or wrong. Not only have they been open but they are willing to discuss and open their eyes to the wider the picture, they may still not agree at the end of it but the important thing is we have had our voice heard.

I have always been a keen EU and LGBT rights supporter and being almost ignorant I walked into the Liberal Democrats believing all members thought exactly the same as me. What truly inspired me was the fact that actually some parts of the party do not support these in such the same way, I do not necessarily mean oppose the premise but the views do not directly mirror my own. However, they are open to hear my voice and share their own views and never judge.

Now I’m not saying to be a Liberal you can believe what ever you like but what I am saying is that as a Liberal Democrat your voice will be heard. If you have thoughts on what we should be doing in government to what we campaign for whether it is on immigration, health services or taxation then what i’ve seen so far is a group of people all keen to discuss these ideas with true democracy After all our manifesto is truly made by its members.

So if you in the deepest of hearts know and feel you are liberal then the choice is clear that you are a Liberal Democrat. This is not because you want to be left, right or centre but it is because you can be any one of these in your ways because as a party and as members we support each and every member. We are open to your views, your opinions, your values and we embrace our liberal ways.

A liberal knows what is right in the deepest of hearts and its time everyone embraced this!!!

The struggle of Equality and Homophobia


So after much thought I have decided to ramble on about the struggles of Equality. My main focus in particular is that of LGBT+ equality.

For many years we have fought for equal rights and one by one rights have been given for the LGBT community. One thing I have always found myself pondering is why do we in modern society have to ‘fight for our rights’. Now there are many reasons to this and one is through pure ignorance of education.

Being a gay man myself I almost find it amusing when someone makes that ‘homophobic’ remark. But when you actually speak to the person it becomes ever clearer it is more out of ignorance. We can pass law after law giving equal rights but unfortunately this will never solve the ignorance of the minority in society. Where we begin is from the bottom, we start with the education of the youth. Now i’m not saying we will solve homophobia in a week by educating. In fact it probably wouldn’t solve it for another 30-40 years if not more. After all education gets passed from generation to generation and by educating now we can begin to work on on securing that equal society in the future. We can pass all the laws in the world but we cannot force someone to accept.

We have of course come a very long way over the past 30-40 years as it is. We have become more accepting as a society and have seen the rights for a same sex couple expand from the right to adopt to the recent right of same sex marriage. The biggest statement of a more accepting society is the ever growing Pride festivals that happen across the UK every year. They show such diversity that 30 years ago people could only ever dream off. I have now attended Brighton pride for the past 2 years, this year I actually took part in the parade alongside other Liberal Democrats. It is an amazing feeling to take part in such an event and especially one that is of personal relevance and close to heart. Pride is after all to show people we should all be Proud of who we are regardless of your sexual preference.

My most biggest annoyance is the stigma of religion (particularly Christians) against the LGBT community. In fact more Christians now support the LGBT community than ever before. The biggest thing that stood out to me recently was the misrepresentation of some media that because Tim Farron (LibDem leader) was Christian he must be homophobic as he avoided the question. If anyone knew of Tim Farron’s work they would know he actually stands up for LGBT rights and even drafted a bill on PSHE of the inclusion into our education system. Last time I checked this isn’t the work of someone who is homophobic. However, what I do believe is that if a person of Christianity does believe being LGBT is not right in the eyes of god we should not persecute this belief. This is their faith and have every right to believe that (it is a human right after all). If we persecute a belief then we only create the same stigma and lack of equality the LGBT community once had. The purpose of Equality is so that we are all equal in rights after all.

Now true equality isn’t going to happen over night. We can keep passing laws but what we really need to start doing is educating and from there build the ground works for a better future, which can actually apply to equality of all minority groups.

What we need to do is start educating people it is actually alright to just show PRIDE in who you are no matter who you are!! And maybe just maybe we can begin the future with True Equality

The Start Of My Liberalism


Firstly I will add this is my first blog so please do excuse my ramblings.

So it has now been nearly 3 months since the general election 2015 here in the UK. I was one of those people on 8th May with matchsticks in my eyes glued to ITV and the BBC from 10pm until hours I never knew even existed unless it was work related. Through those hours I saw an obliteration, a tragedy with emotions from many people myself included. Deep down I felt devastated, and I wasn’t even stood there losing a constituency I had represented for years.

Now I should say I’ve voted Liberal Democrats since the moment I could at 18 and have never looked back. It wasn’t until that crushing night that something awoke inside me. It was 2 days after on the 10th May that I finally made my path and joined as a member of the LibDems. The night of the election results made me realise how much of a Liberal I am, more to the point how much we need to make a liberal voice heard across the country and the world.

I like many come from a family of life devoted Labour supporters/voters. But I realised from an early age they were not the ones to stand up for my views or who I am to the core. I believe the new leader,Tim Farron, put it right by saying “embrace the diagnosis”. I certainly did, I can certainly say I have never looked back. I have met some amazing people already from all across the UK all with a core belief that Liberalism is needed more than ever. I have discovered that even in the corners of the South East where I am have a party, who knew Thanet actually had LibDems. Since that day of finally meeting them I have discovered people all with a passion for wanting a fairer society and to see our area be as good as it once was and better.

Now it’s to early to say but the past 3 months has shown great enthusiasm with a spark being set off. The spark that has led to the early signs of catching and spreading. Will it catch on and become a wildfire of Liberalism? Time will only tell. Providing this fight and power of enthusiasm continues then it certainly will not be extinguished. But until then I know I will certainly make my voice heard and show how everyone has a liberal side to them and that it is about time we all embraced it!! So now is the time for #LibDemFightBack so let’s really make our voice heard!!!