‘It’s just quite shocking’ - Norwich doctor who volunteered at Calais refugee camp tells of heart-breaking scenes

Junior doctor Emily Player.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Junior doctor Emily Player.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A Norwich doctor has told of the heartbreaking sights she saw while volunteering at The Jungle refugee camp in Calais.

Norwich doctor Emily Player spent time volunteering at The Jungle refugee camp in Calais.

Norwich doctor Emily Player spent time volunteering at The Jungle refugee camp in Calais. - Credit: Archant

Emily Player, 30, who lives in the Golden Triangle, said she was moved to help after seeing news reports highlighting it as the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Mrs Player gave up a week of her own time, while on annual leave from her job at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N), and funded the visit herself.

She made contact with a local women's and children's centre, and after an induction talk she joined other volunteers in caravans around the site to offer basic first aid and to triage patients to the medical centre.

The former UEA student could not practise as a doctor while in France as she did not have the necessary documentation, but could help those with minor cuts and bruises, such as wounds caused by getting on and off lorries, and from those who encountered brutality.

Norwich doctor Emily Player spent time volunteering at The Jungle refugee camp in Calais.

Norwich doctor Emily Player spent time volunteering at The Jungle refugee camp in Calais. - Credit: Archant


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She described some of the desperate sights she saw, including hundreds of unaccompanied children, refugees who had sewn their mouths together on hunger strike and deaths which would never be reported on, with people not even knowing the name of the deceased to be able to tell their family.

Many of the people she saw needed help with low level illnesses like coughs and colds, brought about by months of living in a tent and of uncertainty.

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Other refugees served as translators to help, as they saw some 200 people per day, with around 3,000 at the camp in total, trying to get to England.

Mrs Player is a member of Norwich All Saints Women's Institute (WI), and members of the group donated items such as children's clothes and torches to take with her.

She said many people in the camp battled with mental health issues.

'There are children there without any adult supervision and it's just an hour away from London,' she said. 'It's just quite shocking.

'I hope at least by telling people about it, they're aware of the situation and if they want to help they would be able to.'

She added that she had volunteered in developing countries while training as a doctor, but had not known anything like The Jungle.

The constant police presence around the camp was eye-opening, she added.

Mrs Player was at the Jungle in late March and early April.

She offered her time after researching what help was needed on the website calaidipedia.co.uk/

Those with teaching, medical and youth work skills were most in demand, she said.

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