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Calais, April 7-8, 2022

We had a slower journey to France than usual. The M20, coast bound, was closed due to Operation Brock, with lorries backed up mile upon mile, unable to cross the Channel due to the P&O ferry Port of Dover fallout.

On our arrival in France we were greeted by very high winds, and the Médecins du Monde ambulance was not going out. For other reasons, we weren’t able to set up The Community Table at the Secours Catholique day centre. It felt like the Calais winds had picked up our plans and blown them off course.

However, we harnessed new opportunities. Rather than work with the majority male population, we were invited instead to offer a group to women - from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. As most were fasting due to Ramadan, we offered our new gentle paper-bead activity, with strips of old photographs easy to roll and lending pattern, gloss and colour.

The beads continued our thread started in Folkestone, Kent and linking to Nakivale camp in Uganda. Though made by the women with jewellery in mind, they again reminded us of pieces of building materials, nuts, bolts, connectors, scaffold poles, pieces of other cities.

On Friday, on the Calais beach, we found washed up pieces of plastic from other places, discarded jewel-like fragments. The sand had been blown by yesterday’s winds to form quasi-maps. We later visited a new ‘living site’ for refugees, and a second Secours Catholique day centre where future workshops may take place.

Bobby Lloyd and Miriam Usiskin

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