Photographer: Working with the ​charity, Just Shelter

As some followers of this blog will be aware, for several years I’ve been documenting trips to Northern France with London-based charity Just Shelter, who raise money, collect necessary items and organise educational activities for displaced children in France. For others, it might come as a surprise to hear that people are still living precariously in Calais and Dunkirk. The well-publicised Jungle closed in 2016 but families and individuals have continued to arrive in the area and many are existing without any of the basics most of us take for granted.

Donated toys are washed and books sorted in a warehouse in Calais before being given to children and families. Another warehouse nearby continues to provide food for people in need. (2020)

Over the last few years, I have focused on landscapes which aim to mark the passing of time, as well as the Just Shelter’s activities, and when appropriate I’ve photographed people we met. Cameras and displaced individuals are not a great mix, but one of Just Shelter’s aims is to remind people that there are still many in need as well as busy, underfunded, volunteer organisations providing support.

This weekend was the first time I accompanied Just Shelter after a break of several months, and it was distressing to see that, although some things have shifted, the situation is not improving. One is left wondering if it ever will. Today, as we remember some of the worst events from of our history, we can reflect on the way people are being treated in the US and across Europe, and consider the lack of empathy evidenced by Parliamentarians recently who voted not to reunite refugee children with family members in the UK.

Images of a workshop run by teachers with Just Shelter and volunteers from Project Play this weekend with children who really enjoyed the games and maths lessons provided. (2020)

To donate or offer support please visit Just Shelter’s Facebook page. You can find out more about Project Play here. 

All images (c)SJField2016-20

 

South London Photographer: Calais

Recently I was asked to accompany an Earlsfield based association to document their trip to The Jungle in Calais. In the near future Just Shelter aim to raise funds for charities, Calais Kitchen and Jungle Canopy,  who feed and help people living in the camp. Please follow Just Shelter to find out more about upcoming fundraising events. There are no NGOs operating properly in Calais and so the volunteers working there are doing so under extremely difficult conditions and really need any help they can get, as do the people living in the camp. With so much going on in the world the media have moved away from The Jungle and donations are less forthcoming. It is becoming harder to maintain the support that is required.

Here are a handful of the images from my previous trip. Please see my site for other images showing some of the conditions people are living under. You can also visit Just Shelter or Calaid-ipedia for further information about what is needed and how you can help. Just Shelter is planning another trip very soon and will welcome donations of money or goods, but please check with Just Shelter about what is  required.

All images (c)SJField 2016

IMG_1840
Taken from inside a makeshift kitchen. We were offered tea, coffee and snacks, as is usual there. The people I spoke to here had been living in The Jungle for almost a year.
IMG_1975
Although the authorities succeeded in demolishing this section of the camp there are still just as many people living very close by and about a hundred arriving daily*.
IMG_1912
The packing containers which have been used to house some people are woefully inadequate. There are no cooking facilities and limited bathrooms.
IMG_2010
I was told that one of the hardest things, amongst many, is having very little to do. Kite flying is perhaps difficult for the authorities to prevent. Destroying the street with its makeshift cafes, as well as preventing external groups from being there in order to provide something to occupy people’s time, is a cynical strategy aimed at breaking down morale amongst residents.
IMG_2017
Although this church was left standing another was demolished despite assurances it wouldn’t be. As was a school. This church is now surrounded by wild scrub when just a few months back it was surrounded by the people it served.
IMG_2052
Another area where once there were tents and shelters.  These were bulldozed in March. Thousands of already displaced people were forced to set up just a few yards away.  There are more than 7,000 people living there and no NGOs in place. The charities work tirelessly to help and are privately funded with donations. Volunteers fund their own travel and board.
IMG_1753
Sanitary towels are of course really important for women. I can imagine how uncomfortable and difficult it must be to have your period and not have a bathroom to use.
IMG_1792
The warehouse we visited is a huge operation being run entirely by self-funded volunteers.

 

*https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/27/calais-camp-france-food-refugees-business-companies-support