Living in flimsy tents, pitched on mud in olive groves where farmers would usually leave their donkeys, life for refugees in camps on Greek islands is far from picturesque. But Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos, stands out for its appalling conditions.
It became a focal point for the refugee crisis in 2015 and has been described as the shame of Europe. About 6,000 refugees live here, where life is particularly hard for women. Harassment and sexual violence are endemic. It has been reported that women are so afraid of going to the toilet at night that they wear adult nappies and that they are seldom able to shower for fear they will be attacked. A lack of washing means that small cuts easily become infected, scabies is rife and normally minor conditions such as thrush become agonising.
When James Clarke, a 36-year-old from Brixton, read about the conditions in the camp, he felt compelled to do something. Having set up Respond, a charity that helps aid organisations with construction services, in 2017, he was well placed to help. With a background in construction management and festival management, Clarke saw a curious but clear parallel between running areas of Glastonbury and the needs of refugees. “All people need water, sanitation and shelter and you need to be able to build everything quickly and cheaply. The two are incredibly related,” he says.