Nicole spends mid-term in Calais camp

It was a deeply emotional mid-term break for one Portadown family who spent it in Calais helping people in the refugee camps.

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 3:53 pm
Some of the Graham family and friends at Calais

The Graham family drove in their trusty camper van to the French port to help people who have been staying in what has become known as ‘The Jungle’.

Nigel Graham and his wife Paula took their four children plus a van packed with supplies such as food, blankets and sleeping bags for the needy migrants.

All were deeply affected by the horrendous conditions the migrants were living in, particularly his youngest daughter Nicole who is aged just nine.

Nicole told the BBC, which featured the family’s efforts, “It was scary seeing everybody in the tents and in the snow.

“It wasn’t very nice to see all the things on the ground and it was very muddy. I felt very sad for them. It felt good to help them.

“I gave out water and tea and coffee. There was a puppet there and we got to play with a wee boy. His name was Sam.”

Nicole’s mother Paula defended the decision to take her. “People said to me about bringing the children. What can children do? Children can do a lot as we noticed when we brought our own four out with us.

“Plus I always had her by my side,” she said.

Their camper van became a makeshift soup kitchen as well as somewhere for people to gather and talk.

Nigel explained that he first went out with a group from his church, the Vineyard, in Dungannon last November.

After seeing the horrifying conditions people were living in, he spoke to his family and Danny (21), Andrew (16), Katie (12) and little Nicole went out with their mum to help the refugees.

“They were living in shocking conditions,” he said.

“The first time we went the hardest thing was to come home because we saw so much need,” he said.