Sunday 26 January 2020

Refugee camp plea highlighted at Letters Live

Sophie Dahl reads a letter during the fifth night of the Letters Live series at the Freemason's Hall, London.
Sophie Dahl reads a letter during the fifth night of the Letters Live series at the Freemason's Hall, London.

A letter penned by a 10-year-old addressing Prime Minister Theresa May over unaccompanied minors living in refugee camps was one of the highlights on the last evening of a literacy fund-raising event.

Sky Quinn addressed the PM in his letter, telling Mrs May: "It is dangerous there and no one would like to be there for even a day. It would be really frightening for a child alone.

"There are 1,000 children on their own in Calais, in the jungle. 400 of them are actually allowed to be in this country. Please let them in quickly."

The letter was read to an audience at the Freemasons' Hall in central London on the last night of Letters Live. It was just one of a series of historic letters being read by a string of famous actors, musicians and writers over a five-day period.

Quinn continued, listing several well-known children's tales as examples where children had been saved.

He wrote: "James was saved by The Giant Peach. Oliver was saved by Fagan. And Mowgli was saved by Bagheera and Baloo. There are no Bagheeras, Baloos and Fagans in the Calais Jungle."

"I wish it was just a story so a hero could be made up to save the children there."

"Please do what has been promised so that these children can be united with their relations in Britain.

"If you don't I am ashamed of the country I live in," he said in his last line, signing it from him and his mother.

At the beginning of the week, five-year-old Brooke Blair took the PM to task over a lack of spending and not helping the homeless in a video that went viral after being posted online by Brooke's mother, Holly Matthews.

Inspired by Shaun Usher's best-selling Letters of Note series and website, as well as Simon Garfield's book To The Letter, the event has seen actors and performers reading out literary correspondence to a live audience.

Model Sophie Dahl read a letter she wrote to two teenagers after meeting them while visiting Calais with Help Refugees at the beginning of the year.

Dahl met the unaccompanied minors and discovered they had known each other in Syria, but had lost touch and re-connected in the camp.

A couple of months ago she was reunited with them in London.

In the letter, titled I'm Sorry, she wrote: "I'm sorry your mums and dads had to give money to a stranger and entrust you to a dark sea and a leaking, overcrowded dinghy because that was their best option for you, their lovely boys."

She continued: "I'm sorry the police hit you, that adults tried to exploit you, and that still, you had to keep WAITING. I'm sorry that once you arrived, legally, in England, you have had to wait more."

Comedian Noel Fielding, Sherlock star Amanda Abbington and Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp were among the other famous names who read letters.

Other speakers who have featured in the current series include Jude Law, Michael Palin, Harry Potter theatre star Noma Dumezweni and The X Files star Gillian Anderson.

Charities supported by the five-night event include the Ministry of Stories, First Story and Help Refugees.

PA Media

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