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LifeJackets founder Carrie Comfort on why we included refuge & migration in our ‘home’ reading challenge?
I started LifeJackets just as the refugee crisis unfolded around us in 2015. I was already starting to plan our first reading challenge themed on ‘home’ and the issue felt too big to ignore.
The moment it really struck me was when I stopped at a service station on a family car journey one bank holiday. I flicked through a newspaper and saw a colour picture of this family. They were dressed practically for a walk or picnic, wearing jeans and sweatshirts, and had just climbed through a fence to reach safety in Hungary.
Armed police reached for them and the father, who ran ahead with a small child, looked back at the mother screaming behind them. She was clearly unable to get away. This family was dressed like ours, and as I looked around the service station, I knew that family in the picture could have been any of us.
LifeJackets founder Carrie Comfort on why children need opportunities to think about homelessness
My four-year-old daughter and I found a homeless woman sleeping on the floor of the local public toilet. Until she moved, we thought she was dead. She woke and apologised for startling us and explained that it was safer for her to sleep in the day.
This was more than two years ago but my daughter still asks about the woman on the floor. You can tell that this had an impact on her – the awareness that there are people who have no home, no place to be safe and to sleep.
This fits with my experience of how children react to seeing people who are homeless. There are few children in London, or any big towns, who won’t have noticed that some people don’t have homes. And, like most injustice, children are often troubled by it.