Car crashes. Sometimes you can be lucky, sometimes not.

My daughter Emma was lucky this week. Although the car was a write off, she walked away unscathed, and mercifully the other driver was not badly hurt either.

As dad said to me in the morning morning, 'we have all been there'. I remember him telling me that when he was a young man, he wrote off his father’s brand-new car into a tree on the way home from a dance.

He came down to breakfast and apologised to my grandfather for what had happened, but also said in mitigation that he had fallen asleep, he wasn’t drunk. There was a brief silence, followed by: “I would rather meet a drunk driver than a sleeping one.” Grandad had an undeniable grasp of logic.

Cars are not the only things that have been crashing around the country. Storm Arwen wreaked havoc here as it has across much of the country, with many trees and powerlines brought down.

Three days without power demonstrated how utterly reliant we are on the electricity we take for granted and thoughts are with those who have had to endure power cuts for much longer.

My brother, Gus, must have felt particularly smug (though, as a gentleman, he would never show it) as he had presciently wired in a backup generator to his house the week before.

Many trees have also landed on poly tunnels, but I mourn particularly a grand old beech which came down in our garden. More than 100 years of growth and beauty brought down in an instant.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I have heard it said that so many trees were brought down because they had grown strong roots to the West, from whence the gales usually come, so were blind-sided by that blast from the North.

Much like a tree, our farming businesses need strong foundations to grow tall and growth without stability is ephemeral. I don’t think I am alone in thinking that everything in politics, business and society feels very fragile right now.

Claire Simonetta’s excellent 'cascade effect' column last week demonstrated, amongst other things, how everything is interconnected and one thing can lead to another.

It stands to reason that cascades, or domino effects don’t always have to be bad, however, and also that some good can come out of the most awful events. A maxillofacial surgeon friend of mine (doesn’t everyone have one?) told me once that he witnessed huge advances in surgical techniques in Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan, and it is widely recognised that awful as wars are, they do often act as a catalyst for great advances in science and medicine, amongst other things.

We might well have had a few days of inconvenience with no electricity due to Storm Arwen, but it bears no comparison to the suffering endured by the 23,000 folk who have risked their lives to cross the Channel in rubber dingies thus far this year. Tragically, 35 have died in 2021 in the attempt.

Read more: James Porter's Farm View: A tricky climate for many reasons!

In 2020, the UK received applications for asylum from 37,550 people, according to the British Red Cross. By comparison, Germany, France and Spain each received around three times as many. Around 43% of applications were from women and children.

Whilst their claims are being processed, current rules prevent them from working and accessing mainstream benefits during the first 12 months and after that, they can only do skilled jobs on the Shortage Occupation List. They do have access to something called Section 95 support if they are destitute, which is a weekly subsistence payment of £36.95 per person.

Can’t we turn this deeply upsetting tale of human sorrow into something positive? According to a research briefing from the House of Commons library, entitled 'Asylum seekers: The permission to work policy', Canada and Australia allow asylum seekers to work immediately upon arrival, surely a much more humane and practical arrangement.

Suggested benefits in the briefing are clear – it would 'benefit the UK economy and reduce costs to the taxpayer; ease some of the difficulties that asylum seekers can face during the asylum process, such as social and economic exclusion, de-skilling, low self-esteem and poor mental health; improve asylum seekers’ integration and employment prospects in the event of a positive asylum decision; and reduce asylum seekers’ vulnerability to destitution and exploitation as an illegal worker.

'People who support more restrictive policies tend to raise concerns that more favourable rights might act as a pull factor to the UK. Asylum rights' campaigners counter that there is little credible evidence to support this belief'.

The fact of the matter is that the little strip of water called the Channel still acts as a significant barrier to migrants, economic or otherwise – the vast majority will always end up in the EU.

Given the shortage of agricultural and food industry workers, both temporary and permanent, surely it is time to have a fresh look at this policy? The delay could at least be reduced to six months and asylum seekers permitted to undertake seasonal, or permanent work in food production where shortages of labour are so particularly acute.

This country is capable of great acts of compassion on occasion. Christmas is coming and like Ebenezer Scrooge, it is a time for us to be better and more generous than we have been.

Let the New Year bring in a more humane treatment of those who land destitute upon our shores.