Jane Fletcher, born in The Deepings and now living as a freelance artist in London, has set up a fantastic project to help inspire young children in the refugee camp in Calais.
Smiles For Miles is an initiative that has seen Jane collaborate with 40 artists worldwide to produce a quality colouring book for refugee children.
Jane has printed 150 books which she is selling for £6 each. All the money will then go back into printing more books. She aims to reach 800 books.
She painted in the camp in August and will be going back in October to hand deliver the books.
Whatever your stance on the current humanitarian crisis, this project shows the love, goodwill and compassion of people who want to help.
The project is completely not-for-profit and has been almost a year in the making.
I caught up with Jane on a lazy Sunday afternoon in a bustling London coffee shop to talk about the project, Smiles For Miles, and not only did I learn a thing or two about art, I also learnt about what it means to be a human in a world hungry for wealth.
Jane beams: “I came up with the inspiration for Smiles For Miles after being invited to paint at a street art festival near a refugee camp in Greece.
“Rather than just paint a piece that they may never see again, I wanted to give them something of their very own that they could keep, return to and have ownership of.
“A lot of love has gone into producing the books and I believe they will feel this when they receive them. It also gives kids from more fortunate backgrounds the chance to reach out to the refugee crisis, as they can colour in pictures and hashtag them to show their support.
“The public have engaged with the project on an amazing level and it has opened my eyes to just how much people care. At first, the goal was the colouring books, and still is, but now I can think about taking the project further and offering more hope through creativity and connection.
“Art is an international language and we hope that these pictures will help to encourage young refugees to escape from a poor reality by using their imaginations.
“The 40 artists involved have all been amazing and each page is a personal message from them to the children.”
Jane and the artists involved will not receive any money at all for this project. It’s purely to help innocent children caught up in yet another conflict.
You can purchase your beautiful Smile for Miles book from the following link : – https://www.youcaring.com/refugee-immigrant-children-522147
Keep up with the campaign on social media at:
Facebook : – @refugeeaidcolouringbooks
Instagram : – @smiles4milesbooks
Twitter: – @Smiles4MilesAid
or help spread the word by using the hashtag #smiles4milesbooks
By Anna Ruggiero