Decorating “The Jungle”

A good friend of mine has been working as  a volunteer at the refugee camp near the port at Calais, commonly termed as “The Jungle”. She returned home for a few weeks and asked if I would help her with a project to brighten up this desperate half-way home for hundreds of refugees. We set up a Crowdfunder page to gather donations to help us out with materials and the cost of her ferry crossing, and I got to work designing some stencils. Originally we intended for her to take a batch of stencils and hand these out plus paints. However it has become clear that the French government intend to demolish more of the camp (after already bull-dozing the church/mosque area a few weeks ago) so we needed to adapt the decorations to be more mobile. We gathered sheets and scraps of material, went on a B&Q mission for emulsion, and began painting brightly coloured murals on fabric. This way they are easily moved and attached to anything. We wanted images that were cheering, to keep morale high and make the camp more homely, so we painted birds, hearts, hands, homes and people and occasionally incorporated words such as ‘hope’ and ‘love’, as well as ‘chance’; a word known and used by many there despite most knowing very little English.

Working on this took maybe two days in total. It has taken my attention away from my college work but for a more than worthy cause. I felt it was the least I could to offer a symbol of support and hope to these people and to help my brave friend who returns on Monday to continue helping the refugees.


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