Wednesday 9 December 2020

Imperial War Museum blog

 Great to see our work in Cornwall on the World War One centenary featured on the Imperial War Museum blog...

Click here to read more and scroll down to discover a really good spotlight on the various projects we delivered - all under the umbrella of our Heritage Lottery funded project 'Heart of Conflict'.

Wednesday 2 December 2020


 We're continuing our workshops on the workers from overseas who play a vital role in the Cornish economy. The aim is to highlight the role that they play and the issues they might face when making the huge life decision to leave home and create a life elsewhere.

Most recently we Zoomed in to Mousehole Primary School where children afterwards created wonderful suitcases illustrating important journeys they have made in life.

Tess drew a picture of her much-loved horse (she told us on Zoom that if she had to leave home she'd take her horse with her). And also recalled a journey she made at the age of three when she went to visit her grandmother in Norwich. Her grandmother often comes down to Cornwall but this was the only time she has ever visited her grandmother's house.  She doesn't even really remember this trip. But the idea of it is important to her.

Flora remembered a 'research' trip. Her favourite animals are wolves and on a holiday to France her family visited a wolf park - where they also saw vultures. This was a voyage of discovery for Flora.

We've also recently delivered a workshop to more than 20 curates training to be vicars in the Diocese of Truro.  Our Romanian volunteers Dragos and Mirabela joined the workshop and talked about their lives.

This was a large audience and there were some interesting reactions...

Good ideas to emerge: the idea of putting up notices in church porches to welcome workers from overseas. We can help by providing templates for that: anyone interested should email

At the same time, the curates also had another important thought: it would be important to combine this invitation and poster with some 'in-house' training so that congregations offered a real and heartfelt welcome.

We all agreed: the prejudice and difficulties that workers from overseas can face is not unique to Cornwall: far from it. It happens all over the country - and the world.

The workshop also threw a spotlight on the fact that Dragos and Mirabela's journey was life changing. They not only changed countries, they changed jobs and were faced with the immediate challenge of integrating into an environment that was inevitably alien, initially.

This is very different from the journey of a professional from one country to another who would find a lifestyle very similar to their home country. This is a journey of discovery into the unknown, and it's not always easy.


Monday 9 November 2020

Remembering Arthur Harris from Camborne


Remembrance Sunday 2020 brought some fresh news of events of 100 years ago.

The great niece of one of the men who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) under Dr William Blackwood in 1914 came forward with information about Arthur Harris, her great uncle, who was sadly killed on 8 July 1917.

Arthur, a miner, was one of the men from Camborne and Redruth who joined Dr Blackwood in the RAMC after war broke out. These men were in St John Ambulance teams at the mines.  Dr Blackwood  - a popular local figure - had helped to train them so that they could provide much-needed emergency medical care there when needed.

After signing up, the men became part of the RAMC’s 25th Field Ambulance, a unit made up of about 250 men from Cornwall and Devon.

In September they left Camborne for the Western Front. They trained on Salisbury Plain then camped in Winchester with the rest of Kitchener’s Army before embarking for Le Havre on 4 November 1914.

They first headed for Estaires in northern France where they were stationed for the first 15 months of the war, engaged in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge. The following year they travelled south to the Somme then in 1917 back to Belgium for the terrible battle of Passchendaele.

Passchendaele was one of the most horrific and bloody battles of World War One and Arthur Harris sadly lost his life at the start of it.

Passchendaele is notorious for the number of men who died. It is also remembered for the conditions in which men fought – the seas of mud that were created by the endless (and unexpected) rainfall that fell that July.  Men fought and died in the mud: many drowned in the mud and their bodies were never recovered.

Arthur Harris died on 8 July 1917, a few days after the battle started. He was not the only man in the 25th Field Ambulance to die that month.  The unit had gone through the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and then the Somme with little loss of life.

But at Passchendaele, their luck turned.

On 7 July 1917, Oliver Allen, a young gardener from Porthleven, was killed. His father J.R. Allen back home was a fish buyer and curer.

The following day Arthur Harris was killed and his grave is close to Oliver Allen’s in Menin Road South Military Cemetery. Here's some footage of the cemetery from December 2019. Men were buried where they fell. The busy road nearby leads down to the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Thanks to Arthur's great niece, Elaine Haddon, we now know a bit of his background.  He was born in Beacon and in 1911 living in Union Street, Camborne.

Several of the men in the 25th Field Ambulance were originally from Beacon – friends perhaps from childhood.

Other west country men in the 25th Field Ambulance who died that month were Private S. Walters (age unknown) of Plymouth who died on 30 July of his wounds;  and on 31 July 1917 Private William Cooper (age and birthplace unknown),  Private John Evans of Exeter and Private S.G. Martin of Plymouth were killed.

Laying a wreath on Dr Blackwood's grave in Camborne


Remembrance Sunday 2020: laying a wreath on the grave of Dr William Blackwood in Camborne - a World War One hero by anyone's standards.  Click here to watch.

In 1914 Dr Blackwood led a group of local miners out to the Western Front. They served throughout the war in the 25th Field Ambulance (Royal Army Medical Corps). Dr Blackwood ended the war as a Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) with a bar. In WW1, 9,881 DSOs were awarded but only 768 with an extra bar.

We researched Dr Blackwood and Cornish World War One history as part of our project Heart of Conflict.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Remembering great bravery

A local doctor made a passionate speech on a cold winter’s day in December 1920 when the War Memorial was unveiled in the village of Praze, west Cornwall, in memory of the 23 young men from the parish of Crowan who died in World War One. 
This was Dr. William Blackwood of Camborne who had led a party of local men to the Western Front in 1914 and served there in the Royal Army Medical Corps throughout the four years of war. With his men he saw the most terrible battles of a terrible war – including Neuve Chapelle, the Somme and Passchendaele.
Blackwood urged the large crowd in Praze on 15 December 1920 to remember the sacrifice of those from Crowan who had fallen. He would have been wearing his Distinguished Service Order (DSO) with a Bar. In the whole of World War One, 9,881 DSOs were awarded but only 768 with a Bar.
Blackwood ended the war as a Lieutenant Colonel. But despite these significant military honours, he went straight back to his practice as a doctor in Camborne when the conflict ended.

His modest grave is in Camborne graveyard, a simple inscription on the headstone: ‘His Duty Done’.
In the church hangs the banner of the Old Contemptibles (WW1 veterans) branch he founded.

This Remembrance Day, poppies will be laid on his grave in memory of his great bravery and inspirational leadership by the grandchildren of some of the men he led to France and Belgium.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Social justice work in Diocese of Truro

Good to see I PACKED THIS MYSELF featuring in the Diocese of Truro's Social Responsibility briefing this month. Thank you to Andrew Yates, vicar of Paul Church, for helping to make this happen.  Click here to read.

Monday 28 September 2020

Skateboard reunion

It was great to see artist Pete Kirby last week (27 September 2020) for the first time for some years. Pete  - now lecturing at Falmouth University -  came to collect the wonderful deck he created for WHATEVER IT TAKES, our skateboard design competition in 2012.

For more details of Pete's board, click here.

For images from the 2012 exhibition, click here.

A selection of the skateboards (which have been touring Cornwall ever since) are now on display at Camborne Library.

Friday 11 September 2020

Camborne World War One veterans' banner


Very many thanks to David Thomas, of Kresen Kernow (Cornwall’s archives) in Redruth, for letting me know that an historic banner, belonging to Camborne Old Contemptibles, is hanging in Camborne Church.

Camborne had an active branch of the Old Contemptibles, an organisation set up across the country in the years after World War One to support war veterans.

The name ‘Old Contemptibles’ was inspired by a phrase first used by Emperor Wilhelm 11 of Germany just after war broke out. He issued an order on 19 August 1914 just after war broke out to ‘exterminate the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army’.

Camborne and surrounding districts had seen hundreds of men join the forces. Many sadly never returned from service: those who did often found it hard to adjust to everyday life back at home. What we would now call ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ was not then recognised.

The opening meeting of the Camborne branch of the Old Contemptibles was held in the local library in May 1936. It was led by Dr William Blackwood. He was a popular local figure who had led a group of St John Ambulance men from local mines out to serve in the 25th Field Ambulance on the Western Front.

Blackwood, then aged 58, said that men who had fought in the War had felt the need for an association for some time.

“Their numbers were diminishing; twenty-two years had passed since the beginning of the last war, although it did not seem so long when they looked back,” said The Cornishman, reporting his speech. “Those years, added to the ages of many of them when the war broke out, made some of them grey-haired.”

“They wanted to get together occasionally and recall the times they had had together. Some of those times were very silly and they had throughly enjoyed themselves ,” Dr Blackwood went on. “In the distance, they forgot the bad times and thought of the jolly times…”

The St John Ambulance men he had led out to France and Belgium had certainly seen some tough times. They had been at the Somme in 1916, Passchendaele in the following year. Many had ended up as Prisoners of War after the German Spring Offensive in 1918.

They named their branch, based in Camborne, the ‘West Cornwall’ branch and the association certainly provided company. It also helped members to get jobs, secure surgical applicances and medical attention for wounds suffered in action.

The Camborne-based group continued for many years, poignantly marking the funerals of members who one by one died over the years by parading this very banner.

Our World War One project Heart of Conflict has told many of their stories.

Friday 14 August 2020

Our new migration map

Searching the world for work .... Our new map for schools, community groups and churches is ready to go.  The very first place that it's on display is at St Mary's Church, Penzance. This church already had a map there encouraging visitors to mark their countries of origin with a pin.

Our new map takes things a step further. Each continent presents the story of a Cornishman who left home and travelled there in the hope of finding work. 

Why? To show that we are all on the move and have been throughout history.  Migration is not a recent phenomenon.

This is part of our project I PACKED THIS MYSELF with Cornwall Council and the Diocese of Truro. It's aimed at increasing understanding of people from overseas who play a vital role in the Cornish economy.

Here Keno Toriello, the Chilean-born administrator at St Mary's, helps to put up the map there. Keno has been working with us on the project for the past 12 months.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Young Trustees Movement Champion

Every small charity depends on the dynamism of its Trustees and we're lucky to have Leonora Rae on the team at Bridging Arts.

Leonora, who works in Charity Business Development at EdenTree Investment Management, joined the Board last year and has brought her insights and experience of the sector to our meetings.

Leonora is also a Trustee of St Andrew's Society. Here's an article about what inspired her and how she finds the experience of being a Trustee - why she enjoys it and what she wishes she knew when she started.


Thursday 30 July 2020

The world in textiles

Loved this map of the world!
Created by fiber artist Vanessa Barragão (previously) in celebration of a partnership between London’s Heathrow Airport and Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Barragão was commissioned to create a massive botanical tapestry.
Using a range of techniques including latch hooking, felt needling, carving, crochet, she created this map of the world.
Our project on migration, I PACKED THIS MYSELF, encourages people to map their own journeys. Here children at St John's Catholic Primary School, Camborne, plot their journeys in cardboard cut-out suitcases.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

Zoom workshop for Cornish Primary school

We were thrilled to run our first Zoom workshop on journeys and migration at St John's Catholic Primary School in Camborne, Cornwall. Our special guest, Mirabela Robatzchi from Helston, joined us and talked about the distances (geographical, cultural and social) that she had travelled in her life.
Due to COVID-19, only about 50 children were at the school and we were not able to attend to deliver an assembly in person (as we had hoped earlier in the year).
But it was a huge success. We zoomed into different classrooms, the children asked questions and told us about the journeys they had made - and hoped to make.
Earlier in the week, I'd delivered some cut-out cardboard suitcases at the school. After we'd finished our assembly, the children created works of art with them.
Here's a wonderful selection. This is part of our project I PACKED THIS MYSELF, funded by Cornwall Council, aimed at breaking down prejudice against workers from overseas who now live in the county.

Thursday 11 June 2020

West Cornwall Miners' Hospital

We haven't been able to do much on our projects during lockdown - but we have been reading!
So many interesting newsletters, Bernard Deacon's on Cornish Studies Resources being a good example.
Here he talks about the Miners' and Women's Hospital in Redruth.  Dr William Blackwood of Camborne worked very closely with this hospital. Dr Blackwood is central to our research on the Cornish miners from Dolcoath (and other mines) who signed up for the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War One.
Interesting to read about this hospital which would have been so central in their working lives.
We wrote our own post a few years ago  - Dr. Deacon provides very useful and much-needed context.

Monday 13 April 2020

Podcast on the Spanish flu

One of the many good things that came out of our World War One project Heart of Conflict was discovering the Western Front Association.
They've just publicised one of their podcasts with a very timely theme: the Spanish flu.
People have compared Covid19 with the Spanish flu.
It could be very interesting to listen to this... Click on the link below ....
Western Front association podcast on the Spanish flu

Monday 6 April 2020

NHS Coronavirus guidelines translated into 43 languages....

A really good resource. Doctors of the World in collaboration with other charities has published Coronavirus advice in 43 different languages. The guidelines are based on the government’s updated advice and health information.
This one is in Romanian.

Here's the background to the project:

Doctors of the World are really pleased to be able to share with you Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for patients in 43 languages, which were produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice and a lot of wonderful volunteers (thank you!):The language files can be viewed in a browser or downloaded for free.The complete list: English, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Czech, Dari, Estonian, Farsi, French, German. Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Kiswahili, Krio, Kurdish Sorani, Lithuanian, Oromo, Malayalam, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Sindhi, Slovak, Spanish, Somali, Tamil, Tigrinya, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Wolof, Yiddish.
Videos of the information are being released here:

Thursday 12 March 2020

Still time to nominate people for new Camborne Community Awards

Something good to think about amidst all the Corona virus anxiety....!
There's still time to nominate people for Camborne's first ever Community and Commerce Awards. The deadline for nominations is 12pm, Friday 20th March. The awards will be made on Wednesday 6th May at Camborne Rugby Club.
It's a chance to put forward the name of any individuals, groups and businesses that deserve to be recognised for exceptional contributions to the Parish of Camborne.
More information on this link....  Or email Rose on

Thursday 5 March 2020

A wet St Piran's Day in London

Torrential rain - in fact it didn't stop all day. But thanks to Steve from the St Peter's Residential Association, the flag was flying over St Peter's Square, Hammersmith, London, on St Piran's Day today.

Sunday 23 February 2020

An Atlas of Migration

This looks interesting .... The official blurb (below) is a bit technical but click on the link and there's loads of interesting information.  Click here
It's produced by the European Commissions Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography....

“The Atlas of Migration is an online guide through complexities of data about migration and demography that will help citizens to understand the facts behind migration as well as provide the policymakers with the best evidence. Open to the public, the interactive platform allows users to create and download profiles for the countries or territories they are interested in. Because the data is updated every 24 hours, users can be confident that they are accessing the most up-to-date information available. The information is made available by bringing together harmonised, validated data from 12 international sources. The Atlas provides information on 60 different indicators related to migration, asylum, integration, demography, and development.”

Friday 21 February 2020

A good quote from an Archbishop

The former Archbishop of Canterbury the Rt Rev Rowan Williams isn't the most quotable person. But I think he got this very right when he was reviewing a book on migration for the New Statesman.
(The Unsettling of Europe: The Great Migration, 1945 to the Present by Peter Gatrell)

It was a while ago but I saved up the cutting.
Why is so hard for us to see migrants as fellow human beings, he asks?
Imagination  - and artistic initiatives  - can help. He thinks, for example, that The Jungle  - play in London in 2018 weaving together migrants' stories with migrant actors - really showed what could be achieved.

"As in so  many areas, imagination - and the breakthrough into someon else's uinfamiliar persepective - is the beginning of political wisdom, the foundation of a politics that is about more than shifting problems around the board and finding new agents (usually victims) to blame."

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Snapshot of possible new immigration system here

Finally - an idea of what the immigration rules might be in post-Brexit Britain.
A shapshot here on BBC News. A mixed response from employers - not surprisingly.
This has yet to go through Parliament but if it does - these are the main features, according to the BBC ....

  • No visas for low-skilled workers - e.g. restaurant, care home and food processing plant staff.
  • Visitors - from EU or non-EU countries - will be able to come to the UK for six months without a visa, but won't be able to work
  • Overseas workers will have to speak English and have the offer of a skilled job with an "approved sponsor".
  • They'll also need to collect points elsewhere - with certain qualifications, for example - in order to clear the 70-point hurdle.
  • Some rules will be loosened to help those looking to recruit - for example, the scheme for seasonal workers in agriculture will be expanded. There will also no longer be an overall limit on the number of skilled workers allowed to come and the salary cap for them will be lowered.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Polish teachers give glimpse of life post Brexit

Great to see this article on CornwallLive: what a great initiative by these two women who volunteer at the Polish school which runs on Saturdays in Truro. They're aiming to support the Polish community with as much information as possible in these confusing days post Brexit.

One of them is Marta Przybyl.

“Quite a few families have either left or are planning to," she says. "The Brexit effect started last year and some of our parents don’t speak much English so didn’t feel confident enough to stay. Also nobody knows what is going to happen so many have felt returning home is the safer option.”

Click here for the full article - another good story from the West Briton's Chris Matthews.

Monday 17 February 2020

Travel broadening the mind....

So - Dutch 17th century painter Aelbert Cuyp was inspired by his countryman Jan Both, who returned to Holland in 1641 after a stay in Rome.
Jan Both started to add Mediterranean light and colour to potentially dull northern landscapes.
And Cuyp was inspired to imitate him - resulting in masterpieces like the one below...
Just shows how travel can broaden the mind.
Herdsman with five cows by river/Aelbert Cuyp

Friday 14 February 2020

A week of meetings....

Early morning  at Redruth traffic lights
....ending in another this morning at Truro College to discuss delivering our first workshop this year.
Have previously been at the Premier Inn, Helston, to talk to Andrea Gilbert of Inclusion Cornwall, and to Starbucks for a fascinating chat with Beata, originally from Lower Silesia but now living in Blackwater.
Starbucks, Chiverton roundabout....
 And in between a quick visit to look at stained glass windows in Crowan that I'm researching. Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music, and St George. Both here looking very late Victorian and British.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Dots on a map

A map for visitors to St Mary's Church, Penzance....
People pinpoint where they've travelled from.  It's interesting to see the clusters - so many from Europe!
It's an idea we might develop in I PACKED THIS MYSELF - breaking down prejudice against people from overseas who come to work here (there's too much prejudice, we hear about it daily.)
Watch this space.
Many thanks to Keno Toriello of St Mary's for forwarding the image to me.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Liberation - by Keno Toriello

Keno Toriello, who lives in Carbis Bay and comes originally from Chile, has contributed this article to our I PACKED THIS MYSELF project. Keno works three days a week at St Mary's Church, Penzance as parish administrator 
On Monday 27th, as we were celebrating 75 years of the Liberation of Auschwitz, the Cathedral of Truro helped to organised a Remembrance Service and a series of displays about the Holocaust. Jewish people living in Cornwall were invited to present their stories. The Service was well attended, and after each presentation a different candle was lit.

I was invited to participate in one of the stands presenting the experience of migrant workers in Cornwall, as I am helping with the project run by the charity Bridging Arts and the Diocese of Truro called I PACKED THIS MYSELF.

When people approached our stand, I asked them to reflect on how welcoming we are towards foreign labour. In Cornwall we are blessed with large numbers of people coming from Eastern Europe that come to work in temporary jobs, picking flowers and harvesting farms with vegetables. Also, some from Portugal or Romania, who have come to settle with their families, and work in factories processing food, where the temperature is kept extremely low.

On our display we were showing pieces of arts made by students at Falmouth College, that looked like suitcases. One showing what the migrant workers said they carried with them when they came. Which makes us think, what would you take with you if you had to travel light to another country for few months?

Different experiences 

A young Cornish Student made a small statue of himself to show his experience of working in one of these factories during his summer holidays. Everybody around was speaking in different languages, and he found himself completely isolated and alone in his own country. Languages, customs, traditions, they all create barriers among us.

A police officer came to speak to me. He explained that Cornwall Police has a special team of officers working with foreigners, dealing with calls where local people living in Cornwall accuse them of stealing or assaulting people. He explained to us that it might be very few cases, but the word spread around quickly and it has created the perception that there are lots and lots of cases.

A statement from Devon and Cornwall Police says: Equality, diversity and human rights are central to the Police force providing an excellent service in preserving life and protecting our communities from harm. A fairer society benefits everyone, and the police service has a key role to play in promoting equality and human rights and tackling discrimination. Promoting equality, and human rights and respecting diversity are the foundations to creating greater community confidence in the police.

My thoughts

My reflection for this day was: How are we making foreign workers feel welcome? When we see them in groups at the Supermarket, how do we look at them? Are we pleasant towards them or do we have an antagonising look?

Are we happy with them as long as they stay out of sight in their caravans in the hidden farms? Or even better if our country makes so difficult for them to come, that we don’t have to see them at all.

Changes in people's attitudes 

Although I have been in Cornwall since 2001, there are changes that I have seen in people's attitude towards me, since the Brexit Referendum. One of the narratives in 2016 was very clear: foreign workers come to England to steal our jobs.

Cornwall has a very high unemployment rate, and it is thanks to foreign workers that come from Eastern Europe and work for nothing, some people argue. It was at this time that I was unable to find an office job for almost two years, and coincidentally I lost the status of permanent resident due to a change in law. It was a very difficult time indeed.

From 2001 until 2016 local people were always friendly and welcoming, and all of a sudden, some people’s views and attitudes were different. Now they had an opinion on foreign labour and several times I was told: Go back to your country.

My answer has not changed… I am home.

My final reflection is to think on how we let radio talk programs, marketing advertising, and political narratives, to influence and change our own thoughts and attitudes towards other people.

God bless you.

This article first appeared in the Penlee Cluster Shout newsletter, February 2020.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

A handy graphic

Didn't know that the UN produced this easily understandable graphic of its Sustainable Development Goals....

Number 10 is key for us as we develop our project I PACKED THIS MYSELF - breaking down prejudice against migrant workers in the UK..... The hyperlinks embedded in the original image probably won't work here - click on this link to find out more.

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