Conversations in Calais

We are currently holed up in Petite Fort Philippe, equidistant from both Calais and Dunkirk, home to two of the largest migrant camps in Northern France. Yesterday we visited Calais, my first trip back there since the mass demolitions that have devastated the bustling shanty town.

When I visited the camp on New Year’s Eve, I wrote about my optimism for the resilience of our communities, that they could embrace and include our brothers and sisters from across the world. Today, the entire south side of the camp is sand and dust, people’s possessions churned into the ground. Only a few scattered buildings remain, isolated from the rest by a hundred yards of wasteground.

While we were in Calais, we spoke to many people, including Kate Atkinson of the School Bus Project, who we will meet again tomorrow (hopefully) to join one of her cookery classes. We also spoke to Inka (criminally not sure of the spelling – sorry!) who works in the Unofficial Women and Children’s Centre, located in a sky blue double decker bus. Listen to the conversation by playing the YouTube video below.

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at

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