One man's mission to help refugees in Calais camp

Stuart Martin from Milngavie (left) having a meal with Fuad an English volunteer.Stuart Martin from Milngavie (left) having a meal with Fuad an English volunteer.
Stuart Martin from Milngavie (left) having a meal with Fuad an English volunteer.
A kind-hearted man has made five trips to Calais to help refugees who he says are living in 'horrendous' and 'inhumane' conditions in a camp there.

Stuart Martin (45), from Milngavie, first visited the refugee camp in France last October when a friend asked if he could tow a caravan.

The night they arrived about 50 tents had been destroyed by a fire which had been started by a candle and Stuart was pleased to be able to donate 130 tents.

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He also travelled there on Boxing Day with 160 tubs of sweets for the children and over a tonne of warm clothes, sleeping bags and walking boots for people.

Stuart takes a caravan each time he visits. One was given to an Iraqi couple with three young children who claim they fled Iraq because their lives were in danger.

He said: “They were so grateful for the caravan and the first thing they did was invite me and my pal in for a meal with them from food supplies that we had given them, only enough to last them a month.

“I was overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity when they were in such desperate circumstances.”

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Stuart, a self-employed gardener, has also made friends with many others in the camp including a florist from Syria who has a 12-year-old disabled son and an engineer who paid £30,000 to be smuggled out of Syria.

Stuart said: “I always take my mocha pot so I can make people a proper cup of coffee, they really appreciate that.

“Many of these people are very disturbed by their experiences. The florist showed me pictures of himself smartly dressed in the beautiful garden of his home in Syria and now he can’t even wash properly. He’s a broken man. The conditions in the camp are horrendous and their treatment is inhumane.

“It’s awful to see how badly people’s lives have been destroyed by wars.

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“The florist’s son recognises me every time I visit and comes running up to hug me - little things like that make it all worthwhile.”

Each trip costs Stuart hundreds of pounds and he loses work when he goes.

Many people have dropped money through his letterbox when they hear about what he does. Some of his customers and local schools have donated gift bags and money.

Stuart said: “Some people think I’m mad to do this but after seeing the camp for myself I just wanted to keep going back.

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“One volunteer told me ‘we can’t help everyone but we can all help someone’.”

Stuart’s going back on May 15. Visit his Facebook page ‘Stuarts trips to France’ for more information or donate through his page or phone him on 07766515802.

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