Record numbers of people are crossing the Channel to Kent: This is actually what happens now

So far this year, more than 4,000 people have crossed the Canal to seek refuge in Kent and the rest of the UK.

At least 235 people crossed the English Channel into the UK in small boats yesterday (August 6) – a new record for a single day.

In response to the rising numbers, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has used the crisis to fuel tension and urge the government to do more.

The right-wing activist has shared a variety of videos on social media showing people arriving on Kent's shores and being transported away on buses.

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But what actually happens to those people who feel they have no choice but to make the dangerous journey to Kent?

We spoke to Bridget Chapman of the Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) to get an insight into the processes migrants will go through when they arrive.

Why are the numbers high?

Bridget Chapman

In her five years at KRAN, Bridget has helped countless young refugees who have traveled to the UK for a better life.

The 49 year old learning and project coordinator believes we are seeing higher numbers of crossings for several reasons.

She said, "I think it's a variety of factors. For example, we see numbers spike every time there are problems in the world.

"The situation is extremely bad"

"Many of the people to come are Kurds from Iran and Iraq, countries that are currently facing difficult situations.

The numbers rise and fall depending on what happens in the world.

"The camps in northern France are being cleared, the tents are being confiscated.

"Food and water have been confiscated. The situation there is extremely dire, which is why people feel they have to make this trip.

"We also have good weather at the moment, which is another factor."

The Kent Refugee Action Network was founded in 2003 to assist refugees and asylum seekers in Kent.

There are two centers – Canterbury and Folkestone – where the charity conducts courses, mentoring, advocacy services and a whole host of other support activities.

In Folkestone, the group sees an average of eight people each day in their morning classes, which run from 9.30am.

They work primarily with unaccompanied minors between the ages of 15 and 19, but provide support for anyone who needs it.

Your mission is to work with young refugees and asylum seekers who strive for full, independent and successful lives in our communities.

Wendy Catterick, who has worked with KRAN from the start, explained how the project started.

She said, "There were various people who noticed many newcomers to Dover there and there were real barriers for these newcomers to speak to locals.

"Some people wanted to, but didn't know how.

“There was misunderstanding and all kinds of things, so it was a group of like-minded people from many different organizations who got together and talked about information sharing and signage.

“They also set up a mentoring project that befriends adults in Dover to help them meet other adults.

"And it really grew from there."

"Migrants are not housed in Kent"

A border guard accompanies a young family who are believed to be migrants from a border patrol ship after they are brought to Dover

Once they arrive on the UK coast there is a lot of misinformation about what is happening to them.

Far from being allowed to roam the county, Bridget says refugees go through a series of checks before being transported across the country.

She said, "As far as I know, your health will be checked upon arrival.

"Although the weather is fine, the water in the canal is almost freezing, so authorities need to be sure they are not hypothermic.

"They are then given an official screening interview for immigration purposes. They are sent to different locations depending on whether they are an adult or an unaccompanied child.

"When they grow up they are sent to another part of the country where companies like Serco have contracts to house them.

"It's usually the north of England as real estate is cheaper there."

"We want migrants to lead healthier and happier lives."

KRAN had to adapt to deal with the coronavirus and the challenges it has posed for its young refugees

KRAN is one of many Kent charities that work with unaccompanied refugee children.

Despite the increase in numbers, Bridget and her team remain determined to support the often vulnerable minors who made the trip.

She said, "If you are an unaccompanied child, stay in Kent.

"We do what we always do and support unaccompanied children in any way they need.

"Our goal is to help them live healthier and happier lives through education, advocacy and mentoring."

Despite Bridget and her team's best efforts to change the public perception of migrants, the inflow of channel crossings remains a controversial issue.

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"An invasion"

Many prominent politicians, including Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, have entered the debate.

After sharing a video of migrants arriving on Kent's shores, Mr Farage described the crossing as an "invasion".

According to Bridget, it is this type of language that adds to the problem.

She said: "It is an extremely irresponsible usage of language.

"We are talking about desperate people, fellow human beings who are in a really difficult situation, and such language simply ignites a very difficult situation."

(tagsToTranslate) Race (t) Dover (t) politics

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