Wymondham teacher’s mission of mercy to a refugee camp

From left to right, a Kurdish refugee, Andrew McFadyen, Stuart Bradbury and Darren French, trying ou

From left to right, a Kurdish refugee, Andrew McFadyen, Stuart Bradbury and Darren French, trying out the hatchway for the first time at a new shop they had just built in the Dunkirk Grand Synthe Refugee Camp. - Credit: Archant

A teacher from Wymondham has spoken about conditions at a camp for refugees in Dunkirk, after paying a visit to volunteer.

British volunteers serving breakfast in the Dunkirk Grand Synthe Refugee Camp.

British volunteers serving breakfast in the Dunkirk Grand Synthe Refugee Camp. - Credit: Archant

Andrew McFadyen, 40, who teaches art at Wymondham High Academy, went to Calais last month to deliver a van-load of clothes, food and equipment donated by students.

Then with friends Darren French and Stuart Bradbury, Mr McFadyen spent a few days at the Grande Synthe camp in Dunkirk, helping to build and improve facilities for some of the estimated 3,000 people from countries including Iraq and Afghanistan who are living there.

He also wrote a song about the venture, which can be found on YouTube by searching for 'Wymondham High Welly Wednesdays - Dunkirk Trip'.

Mr McFadyen said they did basic carpentry work.


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He said: 'We made a front door for a Kurdish family from Iraq and then the second day we fitting out a corner shop.'

Mr McFadyen said people in the camp were misunderstood by the British public.

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'The people aren't there because they are poor,' he said.

'They are there because they are fleeing persecution and war and they are trying to get to a Britain - to what they think will be a safe place.'

People in the Dunkirk camp are living in small, wooden 'chalets' built by Médecins Sans Frontières and paid for by the Dunkirk government.

Mr McFadyen said frustration and boredom were an issue for camp residents.

He said: 'There's a school which is being run by some volunteers and people can get English and French lessons, but beyond that there's not much for them to do.'

Mr McFadyen said he planned to go back to the camp to volunteer in summer, and encouraged other people to think about visiting the camp as well.

He said: 'It's within everybody's power to make a difference and it's an amazing, humbling experience.'

To learn more about volunteering in Dunkirk, visit www.utopia56.com

Do you have a story about someone who has done something to help others? If so, email stuart.anderson@archant.co.uk

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