The story so far

I PACKED THIS MYSELF is a project working with migrant workers and local communities in Cornwall, which started in 2006. The aim: to break down prejudice and increase understanding

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. 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 took his cat and a photo book (2014-21) 'because you want to look at old photos' as well as 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.

Monday, 15 November 2021

Suitcases 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.

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

Assembly at St John's Catholic Primary School, Camborne

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 when we were presenting the ideas and information involved in 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."

Friday, 22 October 2021

Homelessness on our doorsteps

Very good to have a long chat with Rev. Neil Potter of Camborne Church who does impressive work with the growing numbers of homeless in Camborne. 

We met up because it occurred to me that the experience of homelessness had resonances with the experience of 'leaving home' (and all related issues) that we're exploring in our work on migration - I PACKED THIS MYSELF.  There's so much to talk to about: we plan a second meeting in a couple of weeks.

Neil told me about the growing problem of homelessness locally as the months pass and ever more tenants in Cornwall are being evicted by landlords, keen to either to sell properties in the booming real estate market or convert them into Air B and Bs.

Cornwall Council is envisaging a crisis and providing pods (containers) to house an anticipated surge in homelessness this winter. After the meeting I drove round to Rosewarne Car Park in Camborne to see work in progress for myself.

It's a sobering - and shocking - sight.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Packing up postcards....

 ... to send off to Herefordshire where St Mary's Church in Almeley has expressed interest in using them for a service this coming Sunday.

Great to think that our I PACKED THIS MYSELF language postcards will travel 'up country' for further use!

This service - on 'leaving home'  - looks likely to be particularly relevant to the themes of our project, funded by Cornwall Council.

It's about migration and asks the question: 'What would you take with you if you had to leave home for a long time?'


Monday, 18 October 2021

Anti-Slavery Day

 Good to meet Jane Yeomans of Transformation Cornwall today in Truro. It's Anti-Slavery Day and Jane tells me about the work that her organisation is planning in Cornwall.  

Here's a link to the Devon and Cornwall Police web page about Modern Slavery which sets out terms and definitions well.

Driving up, I just miss a really good piece on Women's Hour, highlighting the work of the Salvation Army in this area. Link to the programme here - the item is 29 minutes in.

Costa at Treliske Retail Park is very convenient for a meeting. Not as pretty as Helston Boating lake - but ideal for a chat.