We spent six days in the Jungle. This is what we found:
1. In the camp there is a great spirit of survival.
2. There is hope and delight amidst depression, desperation and disease.
3. There are 20 restaurants, three barbers, two bike repair shops, 20 corner shops, an art centre, two schools, a library, a toy shop, and phone shops in the Jungle.
4. There is scabies (only contractable through prolonged skin-to-skin contact) and daily injuries from dawn raids on the razor wire fence.
5. French fascists rent Calais houses. Their ‘sport’ is to beat up volunteer helpers and wandering refugees.
6. The two Joes and their team of volunteers have forged a haven for the inspirational in the midst of a kind of hell.
“In the Jungle there are unexpected havens, delicious shanty bars and restaurants with witty hosts.”
7. In the Jungle there are unexpected havens, delicious shanty bars and restaurants with witty hosts.
8. The women and children are safe in compounded areas.
9. 49% of Calais residents voted for Marine Le Pen and the National Front.
10. Municipal Calais has spent £20,000,000 on temporary shipping container accommodation.
11. Municipal Calais provides buses for refugees to travel to different parts of France and Belgium to gain asylum.
12. Almost everyone wants to go to the UK.
13. Almost everyone distrusts France, probably because of their treatment by the Gendarmerie and CRS (riot police).
"The wonder of youth and humanity, enterprise and hope, can sometimes rise above the grim realities of daily life in the Jungle."
14. There is remarkably little crime in the Jungle but there are people profiteering from smuggling.
15. No-one wants to be there.
16. Many volunteers, official and unofficial, are doing a fantastic job, against the odds.
17. The church and the mosque have been bulldozed.
18. There‘s sabotage, cruelty, tear gas, desperation and alarming dehumanisation.
19. The authorities are trying to make the camp ever smaller and smaller, but in the meantime, refugees keep turning up, and need shelter and care.
20. The wonder of youth and humanity, enterprise and hope, can sometimes rise above the grim realities of daily life in the Jungle.