‘There are now many hundreds of refugees in the Calais area.’

Every day sees more small boats stopped at Calais. Anne M Jones reports on her ongoing work there

‘I explained – again – that there is no “camp”, that refugees are forced to sleep in fields and hedgerows, camping where they can.’ | Photo: istock / SorenP.

Obsessed with repairing as many sleeping bags as possible from the giant pile, I focus on nothing but my fingers, pliers, needles, and thread upon zips. I do this exclusively for four days. The work is one of themes and variations. The theme is zips, and one variation is finding one that is apparently totally jammed, then tugging it so hard with pliers that it eventually re-slides back into life up and down zipper teeth. Often this action results in a reverse opening from feet to head instead of the normal head to feet. This is not a disaster because then all I need to do is sew up the head end and open a small space along the seam of the feet, for a head hole. Hey presto, a resurrected sleeping bag. (This is but one variation, and if you have been patient enough to read this far I will not test your patience further, except to hope you now have an insight into the satisfaction thereby gained, which leads to this obsession.) My tally by the end of four days was thirty-five bags, plus four coats and a tent. This equals approximately seventy nights of warmth – maybe longer if the nights stay dry enough, or if the refugee is lucky in keeping a tent for a good period of time before a policeman slashes it to move them on.

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