IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT IN CALAIS

Updated: Feb 16

December 15-17, 2021


The ominously still, mild and overcast weather at the start of our three days gave way to a rapid drop in temperature as we left. Imminent new travel restrictions due to the rise in the Omicron virus in the UK were announced while we were in Calais and will make travel across the English Channel in both directions increasingly difficult.


But this news is irrelevant to the refugee population we work with. The thousand or so displaced people in the area are already isolated, ostracised and living in the margins, trying to find ways across the Channel anyway, with legal routes already closed to them.

In each meeting we attended with our French colleagues there was much thinking around the families of those who died in the Channel in November, with the Red Cross available to answer questions.


We ourselves tried to find a regular rhythm and shape to our work which was unusually difficult. In this context we experienced a fragment of what the refugee population has to manage on an hour by hour basis, trying to calibrate in multi-layered and complex spaces.

Our large maps and The Community Table were well used both by staff teams and by many of those using the day centre - for brief periods of distraction, absorption and regulation. There was a short but painful account of one young man’s survival in the sea typed on a typewriter; the building of fortified towers; lorries with super-powers; delicate tracings; faltering across languages; an irregular heartbeat.



Miriam, Bobby and Aida

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