I’ve finally nailed a new recipe (granola - toasted oats, nuts, cinnamon and Agave syrup), which is proving a deeply satisfying desk snack. While I’m crunching, I scan the latest on-line updates on President Hollande’s call to dismantle the Calais camp. As CalAid and every other refugee charity knows, when they bulldozed a third of the camp back in January this year, 129 children went missing. Now there are over 1000 unaccompanied minors in the ‘Jungle’. The irony is that at least 387 of them have relatives in the UK so are entitled to be here. It’s urgent that they’re removed safely from the camp before the eviction, so they can be reunited with their families here.
Having researched ways to get phones into Calais refugee children’s hands, so that at least they can be kept track of (Refugee Phones), an advert pops up in the top right hand corner of my computer. I click on it and a gassato cashmere cowl neck jumper in a duck egg blue from the Pure on-line catalogue fills my screen. I’ve been bombarded with ads like this for about three months now, ever since I tried to find a replacement for my favourite (now moth-chewed) soft grey gassato cowl neck jumper. Naturally, the original design no longer exists, but Pure or the algorithms people or the Google spider (technical terminology alert) persist in teasing me with pale imitations. This newest design (which can be styled with a leather pencil skirt) has a disappointing ribbed section on the actual cowl bit, but there’s 20% off if I order today.
In the afternoon I check other refugee websites to see what they might need, given the imminent closure. Both Calais Action and Help Refugees are asking people to donate rolling suitcases along with medium and large backpacks to their warehouses in Calais, to help residents with their possessions. Help Refugees has also made a list of other much needed items.
Afterwards I head to the post office. On way back I slide into Loaf, the luxury sofa and mattress shop on the corner of Ladbroke Grove. I do this about once a week, mainly to relax in one of their eminently ploofy sofas. Helping myself to one of the free retro-style sweets, I sink down into my sofa of choice, the Chesterfield style Bagsie. I run my fingers back and forth across its soft teal-coloured velvet cover, which I find quite soothing. On the table in front of me is a copy of the Loaf Times, the in-house newspaper, and I read that there’s an ice cream churnery in the Chelsea branch.
Sucking on my old skool Fruit Salad, I think about those 10,000 Calais residents cramming their belongings into whatever they can find, before they hit the road into a very unknown future. And I wonder what else, we in the UK with our warm homes and our soft sofas, can do to make things a little easier for them.
To donate or volunteer: CalAid
To help reunite child refugees with their family in the UK: Unicef
To donate to Citizens UK who are helping to resettle refugees in the UK.