It has been an extraordinary few months. Just back in September, we promised our good friends at Help Refugees and the other amazing projects housed at L'Auberge des Migrants that we would do our best to get a new SBP learning service up and running alongside the food and clothing distribution, health workers' advice, youth service and legal information-- in around a month.
It took us six weeks.
In that time, we raised a fresh budget of around £6000, converted the Big Yellow Bus to a new layout for a different teaching group and age-mix and recruited some extraordinary new team members.
The moment when BYB eventually rolled back over to Calais on the DFDS ferry was both heartwarming and heartstopping at the same time.
We had invested in a SatNav to avoid low bridges and resist becoming a single-decker - but there was still a tendency to drive the bus crouched down every time we found a bridge coming at us! Once through, a sigh of relief and a smile - the obvious jokes about open top buses.
The situation in Calais itself is no laughing matter: 750 people are living in appalling conditions that almost make the Jungle seems civilised. No shelters, while removal of tents, sleeping bags and small possessions is a fact of life - a cruel act perpetrated on a regular basis by police, who also liberally spray the migrants with pepper spray as a bizarre statement of contempt for their human rights. Meanwhile the local prefecture have recognised their responsibilities and that they should at least now provide some basic elements for showers and toilets on trailers twice a day.
And of course there are children here, around 140 sleeping out in freezing weather: our youngest learner is ten years of age - cocky and sparky with all the bravado of someone who has learned how not to show his fear or his insecurity. He works with our volunteers including refugee teaching assistants with multi-lingual skills to contribute to the work we do.
His English - originally taught back in Afghanistan - is extraordinarily good. We are thrilled to work with him and develop his writing, his general knowledge. We talk sometimes about the long journey behind him and encourage him to believe that one day he will have the future and security ahead of him that he so richly deserves, like any other child.
We are operational in Calais 7 days a week; we have a main point alongside the distribution of other services and plan to extend to other smaller distribution points in the coming weeks.
There is some truly successful learning on board, thanks to an amazing and selfless team, who are not looking for any personal fame, glory or reward - other than the knowledge we are doing something to help that needs doing. We are doing this, thanks to your commitment to SBP.
So come join us or come support us: please boost our working fund at the Total Giving site...
Follow our progress and that our students - typically around 70 per day at the moment - on FB and Twitter - details on this page at the bottom.
Thank you - good to have you with us on the journey, as always.