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6/7 September, Calais

The weather has been sweltering over the last two days in northern France, as it has in the UK. Yesterday, the early evening heat turned to haze and, walking along the long Calais beach, the sea was shrouded with mist making the many families enjoying the sea in the late Summer sun appear as silhouettes. Huge sandcastles were being met by the evening’s high tide…

We woke to fog so thick that it was impossible to see even a few feet ahead, and our thoughts turned to anyone navigating the Channel. The fog gradually disappeared with the sun burning through, the humid heat in the afternoon feeling debilitating for us all, even more so for those living outside.

Our plan to work with Médecins du Monde (MdM) in Dunkirk on Tuesday was shelved due to adverse circumstances on the ground, and so we spent two days in the L'accueil de jour de Calais. 580 people attended yesterday though we were told that over the last week numbers had been as high as 800, with people appearing and disappearing.

As ever, those who needed it found their way to The Community Table. Our role was to stay with people as they found regulation through the art materials. Yesterday miniature plasticine table scenes were individually and collectively created, while this afternoon we witnessed unstable structures finding their balance, and even a little bit of poetry.

We ended the day with a meeting with Médecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in their new day centre for unaccompanied minors, with a view to planning ahead a potential additional collaboration for the coming Winter months…

Words by Miriam Usiskin, Bobby Lloyd & Johannes Maertens

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