Hastings: Community praised for helping more than 90 migrants who arrived on beach after Channel rescues
Businesses and local people have been thanked for helping 93 migrants who arrived on Hastings beach in the past week after being rescued by lifeboats in the Channel.
The latest group - 35 men and five teenage boys - spent two days at sea in a small dinghy before they were picked up by Hastings RNLI inshore lifeboat. RNLI crew helped them on to the shore near the harbour arm at around 5.30pm on Tuesday (November 16). They were met by police stationed on the beach and later handed over to Border Force officials.
Volunteers from Hastings Supports Refugees handed out hot drinks, food, warm clothing and blankets to the group - from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and various African countries. One of the men was treated for a foot injury. There were also five boys, aged 13 to 17, from Syria and Eritrea.
Rachael Roser, from Hastings Supports Refugees, said the men were in a “bad condition” and were “very cold and very wet” after spending so long at sea. They had left Calais at 6am on Monday morning and were heading to Dover when they drifted off course. They were rescued near Dungeness.
She praised pubs in the Old Town and nearby cafes for providing free chips and hot drinks for the group. Officials from Hastings Borough Council arrived and opened up Stade Hall so the men could warm up inside. Rachael, 50, added: “What’s overwhelmingly wonderful is it feels like everybody in the whole town is helping. So it started off with just a handful of volunteers giving out cereal bars and cold drinks. Now we’ve got the pubs bringing portions of chips and the cafes bringing hot teas. St Mary Star of the Sea Church in the Old Town had done a collection on Sunday and raised £477 and donated toothpaste, toothbrushes and toiletries.”
She said volunteers gave the five youngsters their mobile phones so they could contact their families on WhatsApp to let them know they were safe: “The young lad who was 13 had my phone and he phoned home to Syria to say that he’d arrived safely and hadn’t drowned. And the look on his face when he was saying, ‘Mum! I’m here!’ was absolutely wonderful.” The group were taken off on a Border Force bus to Dover at around 8.30pm.
On Thursday last week (November 11), local businesses helped 53 migrants who arrived on Hastings beach after being rescued by lifeboats in the Channel. The group - including several children - were handed over to Border Force officials. In total, 1,185 people crossed the Channel by boat to reach the UK on Thursday, a new record for migrant crossings in a single day. Four Border Force vessels intercepted boats and escorted them into Dover.