A parish churchwarden has described how she took pity on a group of suspected illegal immigrants who were dropped off in her village on Tuesday afternoon.
The 12 men and a teenager, all from Africa, have been arrested by police on suspicion of entering the country illegally.
The men are said to have jumped out of the back of a lorry which stopped outside St Andrew’s Church in Cranwell at around 12.30pm on Tuesday.
A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: “We will now hold them and handle their welfare needs until the Home Office arrange a transfer to an immigration centre.”
Lynn Smith, churchwarden at Cranwell said: “A friend of mine had two young boys knocking on her door asking for food by miming with their hands. She was on her own and quite concerned so said ‘sorry’ and closed the door, but they sat on her lawn. She rang me to call the police and at that time I had my cousin and his wife with me and he went to see she was OK.”
At this point the boys came walking along, again miming they were hungry. He invited them to sit on Mrs Smith’s lawn but were unable to communicate apart from signing with their hands.
She said: “They didn’t know what country they were in, let alone what county. It seemed they thought they might be in France, but didn’t have a clue. My husband showed them a map book and said they were in England and their faces lit up.”
Mrs Smith went on: “They were starving hungry and frightened and nervous, but they were polite as they shook our hands. I think they said they were from Eritrea and tried to explain a lorry had dropped them off. The language barrier was very difficult.
“I gave them some cakes and some water to start with, then knowing the police were on their way I thought I would make them a quick cheese sandwich and gave them an apple and banana each and some more water because they were really thirsty.”
The police then took the two young men away, but then three more of the immigrants walked along and Mrs Smith’s cousin again went to see they were alright. They carried on walking but he found four more in the bus shelter and police officers returned to collect the rest of them.
Mrs Smith said: “I did feel for them, because the two lads that came to my door were nervous but nice. Cranwell is quite a quiet place with not much going on so we were quite surprised by it all.”
A Home Office spokesman said Immigration Enforcement was contacted by Lincolnshire police on Tuesday, at around 2pm, after police officers attended Cranwell.
She said: “Twelve people were arrested by police officers on suspicion of entering the UK illegally, seven Sudanese men, between 22 and 29-years old, and five Eritrean men, aged between 24 and 27-years-old.
“One minor, from Sudan, was also encountered at the scene and has been passed into the care of Social Services.
“Where someone is found to have no right to remain in the UK, we will take action to remove them.”