Nothing quite prepares you for the first time you have to squeeze nine cold, wet, traumatised refugees into a small Fiat and drive them to a warm, safe camp. Or hold a hypothermic child. Nor for the sadness and guilt you feel listening to a Syrian man who lost his family to a rocket blast thank you profoundly for hot tea and a warm coat. From my own experience, it makes us infinitely more human – and more politicised.

Last summer, I watched on television, from the comfort of my own sitting room, as boatloads of refugees washed up on the shores of southern Europe. No amount of hand wringing, ...


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