Illustrators visit Calais Jungle


Reportage artists from the First Hand Collective visited and illustrated their experience in the vast migrant camp known as the Calais ‘Jungle’ to raise funds for the charity Calais Kitchens.

The charity works from a large warehouse providing food to the refugee camp that is now home to over 10,000 people with the number increasing by around 1000 people a month.

Calais Kitchens supplies bulk food packages to cooking points and other community kitchens within the camp using a ticketing system that aims to preserve the dignity of the recipients by avoiding long queues.

The food supplied to the Jungle by Calais Kitchens is through monetary donations and food donations that are collected from points in the UK and France, sorted, packaged and then delivered by van to designated shelters and tents within the camp. They also work alongside Calais Woodyard to provide firewood for cooking.

Amy Woolf's illustration of her Calais Kitchens experience

Amy Woolf’s illustration of her Calais Kitchens experience

The First Hand artists that visited the warehouse have been using their take on the experience to raise awareness about the work of Calais Kitchens through the revival of reportage illustration in photo-sensitive areas.

“I found it really disorientating coming home after having visited the camp,” said leader of the project and member of the First Hand Collective, Hannah Simpson. “I just started drawing to process the experience and I thought, this is a really nice, appropriate way of telling stories from the camp and from the organizations that work there because photography is a very sensitive subject.”

“We can’t have photographs of the front of our warehouse because we are subjected to threats from far-right groups. It’s a bit of a minefield, but drawing finds a way through that. It’s a sensitive way of recording the situation where a camera might be too intrusive”

The Calais’ refugee camp is located next to the channel tunnel with many of the migrants are hoping to seek asylum in the UK. Simpson, who spawned the idea, was the first of the illustrators to visit the Calais Kitchen warehouse and has since returned to volunteer.

Phoebe Halstead's illustration of her Calais Kitchens experience

Phoebe Halstead’s illustration of her Calais Kitchens experience

“It’s so, so close, it took me three hours to get there door-to-door, from my house and to see people living in such difficult conditions, it was profoundly dislocating,” said Simpson. “But, although it was really sad to go into the camp and see people living like that, it was also great to see these innovative systems being developed and amazing people trying to do what they can to make it better.”

Eight artists from the First Hand Collective visited the Jungle including Amy Wolfe, Phoebe Halstead and Hannah Simpson (featured picture).

Information for online donations and food collection points in the UK and France is available at with a direct link to the donations page at  


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