Sussex RNLI lifeboat crew ‘blocked from going out to sea’ by people angry at them rescuing refugees

The RNLI has confirmed an incident took place following claims Hastings RNLI lifeboat crew were blocked from going out to sea by people angry at them for rescuing refugees in the Channel.

A group of people on Hastings beach reportedly shouted “horrible” abuse at the RNLI volunteer crew, according to a caller to James O’Brien’s LBC radio show on Thursday (November 25). Zoe, from Hastings, told the presenter she witnessed the group blocking the RNLI lifeboat and shouting, “don’t bring any more of those home, we’re full up, that’s why we stopped our donations, and that kind of really horrible stuff.” She added: “It was really upsetting, and you could hear the hatred in their voice.”

Zoe said she was on the beach, near the harbour arm, with her boyfriend on Saturday November 20, when they “heard the lifeboat station opening up and thought ‘oh they have a call’ and started watching.” She said as the “lifeboat crew pulled the boat out and were going to go into the water”, a group of people “stood directly in the line of the boat so the boat couldn’t be put in the water.”

“Are you sure?” O’Brien asked her.

Lifejackets worn by the 40 people who arrived on Hastings beach earlier this month

“I’m absolutely sure, the police were called,” she replied. “It really shook me to the core and we thought of it yesterday night when we saw the news that people had passed away again.” (A reference to the 27 people who drowned crossing the Channel on November 24. They included seven women - one of whom was pregnant - and three children.)

A spokesperson for the RNLI told the Hastings Observer: “We can confirm an incident was reported to the police. The lifeboat was able to launch and the station remains on service.” Sussex Police have been contacted for more information.

On Thursday evening, an estimated 250 people gathered on the Stade in Hastings Old Town to hold a moving vigil for the 27 people who died when their boat capsized.
Last week, businesses and local people were thanked for helping 93 people who arrived on Hastings beach after being rescued by lifeboats in the Channel.

One group - 35 men and five teenage boys - spent two days at sea in a small dinghy before they were picked up by Hastings RNLI inshore lifeboat on November 16. RNLI crew helped them on to the shore near the harbour arm in Hastings Old Town. They were met by police stationed on the beach and later handed over to Border Force officials. Volunteers from Hastings Supports Refugees handed out hot drinks, food, warm clothing and blankets to the group - from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and various African countries.

On November 11, local businesses helped 53 people who arrived on Hastings beach after being rescued by lifeboats in the Channel. The group - including several children - were handed over to Border Force officials. In total, 1,185 people crossed the Channel by boat to reach the UK on November 11, a new record for migrant crossings in a single day.