Monday 29 November 2021

Suitcases of important things

 A real treasure trove of ideas and drawings from children at St John's Catholic Primary School, Camborne, west Cornwall. We visited them earlier in November (2021) to talk about migration - people on the move. Anyone might need to leave home to find work.

We left cardboard cut-out suitcases with them and asked them to draw what they would take with them if they had to leave home for a long time.

Here is a just a snapshot of the results....Rory in Year 3 said he'd take pizza and chips to remind him of home. A toy car, his teddy and a piano that his grandfather gave him (that he knows how to play).

Amos inYear 5 took a mostly technological approach. He thought he'd take a tape player, two USB sticks with photos and his laptop. But he also drew his cat and a photo book (2014-21) 'because you want to look at old photos', a diary and fountain pen - because he likes using a fountain pen when he writes.  We're rolling out more of these workshops over the next few months and will put this work on display.

Friday 26 November 2021

A life in a backpack and evictions in Camborne

  A cold but exciting day in Camborne. Candy, who lives in the town and has known what it is like to have been homeless, unveiled the bag she has recreated for us.

The backpack on display is the actual bag she took on the road with her when she found herself homeless for the first time, 15 years ago.

She has re-assembled the things she took with her. To hear her talking about them, click here.

The bag is on display at the Christmas Tree Festival at Camborne Church which opened tonight (Friday 26 November 2021). It was a bleak evening but Holman Male Voice Choir braved the rain and threatening thunder storm.

Earlier another group, not far from the church, was drawing attention to a new phenomenon - homelessness caused by a lack of housing in Cornwall, now so popular with second home owners and landlords letting properties out as Air BandBs.

Jan Luscombe and his wife, Tara, have three children in Camborne schools but face eviction before Christmas from the property they are renting.

Monday 15 November 2021

Suitcases and the Land Army in World War One

  The wonders of Google. Not for the first time, am taken aback by the brilliance of the search button in Google photos. I punched in 'suitcase' when I was searching through our archives and what should appear but this photograph of women who joined the Land Army in World War One.

Their suitcases are carefully placed on the ground in front of them. I wonder what they packed in them. They had just arrived at Tregavethan Farm, Truro, where they were to be based.

This photograph is in the archives at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, and was one of many taken by A.W.Jordan, a prominent photographer in the county at that time.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Remembrance Day and the 25th Field Ambulance


A fantastic turnout in Camborne this morning to honour the town's war dead. An impressive parade led by Camborne Town Band ending at the church where wreaths were laid. Click on this link to hear the Band playing:


Alison Pooley, granddaughter of Dolcoath miner Leslie Pentecost who served in the 25th Field Ambulance with many of his fellow workers under Dr William Blackwood, laid a wreath in memory of the men. In 2018, we revisited the Western Front where the men had served with Camborne Youth Band. The Last Post was played on a 100-year-old bugle brought back by one of the men, Fred Negus.


Saturday 13 November 2021

Estaires remembers the Fallen

We were in Estaires three years ago to honour Cornish war dead with Mayor Bruno Ficheux. The town again this year remembered the fallen on Remembrance Day. The parade arrives at the British memorial at minute 12 in this film. 


Thursday 11 November 2021

The three Bird brothers remembered in Penzance

A good turn-out this Remembrance Day (11/11/21) at the Memorial Gardens at Penlee in Penzance.

The ceremony was led by the British Legion and a bugler played the Last Post and Reveille.

We laid a wreath in memory of the three Bird brothers in Penzance who tragically lost their lives in World War One.

A fourth brother, Hubert, survived more than a year of active service at the Front. After the war he returned to Canada (where he had emigrated as a very young man) and founded Bird Construction, one of the biggest construction firms in Canada.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

I PACKED THIS MYSELF in Herefordshire

So glad to hear from Tessa Wilkinson at St Mary's Church in Almeley, Herefordshire, who asked if we might send her materials after she saw a tweet by Bishop Hugh Nelson about our work in Cornwall on migration. 

The package arrived safely and - we are delighted to hear - proved very useful.

"The suitcases were brilliant," writes Tessa, "we had a service in church called Home sweet Home and during it reflected on what it must be like to have to flee from the safety of ones home and we asked people to reflect on what 6 things they thought they would grab if they had to leave home in a hurry.  We gave them each a suitcase with 6 pieces of paper in it and we asked them to write down their 6 items.  It worked really well, and they loved the suitcases!"

We are very happy to send out materials to other groups interested in exploring these very important themes.

This is part of I PACKED THIS MYSELF, work on migration aimed at breaking down prejudice against the people from overseas who play a vital role in the Cornish - and national - economy.  It is funded by Cornwall Council. 

Tuesday 9 November 2021

An assembly at St John's Catholic Primary School

It was so great to be back in school delivering an assembly - for the first time for two years as the pandemic stopped 'in person' work. Mirabela Robatzchi joined me to talk to 110 children about journeys and migration.  We were here exactly two years ago, delivering workshops on World War One.

Not for the first time in this school, we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and interest of the children in the ideas behind I PACKED THIS MYSELF.

Mirabela talked about her journey from Romania to this country: she now lives in Helston and runs a taxi firm with her husband. She was a lawyer back home in Bucharest.

We also showed our exhibition suitcase painted with items brought by workers from eastern Europe who came to this country to pick daffodils.  Mirabela explained the cultural background behind each item. We asked children to think about what they would take if they had to set off on a long journey. 

We left behind a cut-out cardboard suitcase for each student to fill with words and drawings, and will return in a couple of weeks to see the results.

And finally - questions - so many questions! How did you feel when you were travelling- did you feel sad?

You do feel sad, said Mirabela, because you leave behind people and things that you know well. But it's also exciting and on a journey like this, you're always finding something new.

Someone asked how old she was when she left Romania. The answer: 40.

Did Mirabela know any English when she came? Yes - she studied in Primary School and at High School.

The most difficult thing? Hard to say - perhaps learning to work in a completely different area.

And finally, a charming question from an eight-year-old Romanian boy in the class. He'd arrived only recently in Cornwall but already spoke good English.

"Will you come to my house?" he asked.

"Of course!" said Mirabela. "That's very  Romanian."

Monday 8 November 2021

World War One centenary poetry from Hayle

As Remembrance Day approaches, just discovering poetry written in autumn 2018 in Hayle, Cornwall, a century after the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front. Click here to download a leaflet. 

This was part of our project Heroes of Hayle, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Keen writers – some experienced, some trying their hand for the first time - gathered at three workshops led by respected local writer Jenny Alexander. The poems marked the centenary of the end of World War One, looking at Hayle’s extraordinary social and industrial history.
The result is a moving and powerful anthology - poems reflecting the courage, stoicism and heartbreak of those terrible years.

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