The men, women and children risking their lives to cross the Channel in small boats are not aliens, invaders, migrants or some other lesser category of human to be dismissed. They are us.
People in Camberwell had neither money nor electricity to burn, but they had wood from doors and broken window frames and shattered furniture gathered up in a pyramid, as the focus of their street party. The grocer had dug out some old bunting, somebody had found sparklers, and rockets that fizzed harmlessly. It was all a bright wonder to a boy of four, who should have been in bed hours ago but who stood in the street, barely noticed, watching the beery faces, waiting to ask his mum the only question he cared about that day: “Will Daddy be home soon?”
Yarl’s Wood detention centre is a secretive but notorious place where people are held without charge for year after year, not knowing what is going to happen to them. They often crack. The only way to find out what was going on in there was to go in myself. It wasn’t easy.
“Go to see the body of Nelson Mandela lying in state,” the editor of the Sunday Telegraph said. “Tell us what it all means.” What was it like? Overwhelming.
Beachy Head is a place of stunning beauty, but it also draws people who are desperate and looking for an end. The Chaplains are a group of people who patrol in all weathers, day and night, saving lives. They avoid publicity, but in the summer of 2014 I became the first (and only) reporter allowed to see their work at first hand.