Jaywick: Donald Trump urged to 'feel the love'

By Doug Faulkner
BBC News

Image caption,
Jaywick has the beach on one side and farmland to the other

Named the most deprived neighbourhood in England in both 2010 and 2015, it's fair to say that the Essex seaside village of Jaywick Sands is used to unwelcome publicity.

But on Wednesday, rather improbably, Jaywick found itself in the position of becoming a visual representation of the issues seen as threatening the US economy.

An edited image of one of its streets was used by Republican congressional candidate Nick Stella to attack his Democrat rival and to warn that a failure to support President Donald Trump could trigger "foreclosures, unemployment and economic recession".

BBC News went to a windswept Jaywick to speak to residents about their latest brush with infamy.

Click and drag the arrow on this interactive image:

Driving through the village, you see the brick houses of the "posh end", shops and amusement arcade give way to a sprawl of chalets. Their fenced front gardens are filled with plant pots, toys and, at the moment, the odd pumpkin.

What were once meant to be holiday homes have become permanent residences due to a housing shortage following World War Two. Today, some 5,000 people call the former holiday resort home.

On a cold November morning, the streets and the village car boot sale battered by the rain, the cut and thrust of US politics seem a world away.

Yet it's clear that the way their village was depicted in America is a far cry from how the people of Jaywick see their home.

Image caption,
The Mermaid Inn has been closed for many years, although Jaywick can boast three thriving pubs

"If you experience hitting rock-bottom and having nothing, you respect having better things," Shirley Blok says.

"I love it here, I really do. I never want to have to move away.

"To walk on the beach is purity.

"There are real people and real suffering here but you can walk out of your front door, go speak to people and come back feeling richer."

Image caption,
Shirley Blok says she never wants to move away from Jaywick

And what does she think of the congressional campaign advert?

"Jaywick people dare Donald Trump to visit us, come and feel the British love, see our heart."

In Jaywick people are open and honest with each other, they talk about their struggles and no-one leaves another in trouble, residents tell me.

Perhaps fittingly, one of the three pubs in the village is called Never Say Die.

Tim Carroll, 43, is one of the brave few trying to hold a car boot sale at the beach car park in the lashing wind and rain.

Image caption,
Tim Carroll moved to Jaywick last year in seek of lower rent

Mr Carroll, who moved to Jaywick from Gravesend in Kent 18 months ago, said of Dr Stella's campaign advert: "It is yet another insult to the Jaywick people.

"It doesn't deserve the reputation it has.

"I love it here; everyone says hello, if you run out of milk you can just go next door. People will help you and there is a real community here."

When you talk about the spirit of Jaywick, a name many mention is Boo's.

Down one of the little streets similar to the one thrust into prominence this week is Boo's Community Cafe.

This converted caravan, with a sign in the window that reads "Menu: Take it. Leave It", is where locals come together for breakfast, lunch and even Christmas dinner.

Image caption,
Lorraine "Boo" Vaughan also hosts a book exchange at her cafe

It is run by Lorraine "Boo" Vaughan, a smiley woman with her nickname tattooed on her neck.

As she chats to me at the door of her home - while trying to keep the dog and cat inside - a neighbour comes over to ask for a cigarette and Boo duly obliges.

"We are a big family and it comes straight from the heart," she says.

"This is where we all come on Christmas Day. We usually get 13 or 14 of us in here; we do a grotto as well, but this year I think we are going to have it in the shed."

She started the eatery as she felt Jaywick needed a cafe outside of the high street.

"I just wanted there to be something at this end," she says. "It is a long way to the high street and people will get half of what I'll do for £3 there."

Boo's is also home to a book exchange and in the back are clothes she gives to people as needed.

"All I ask is that if they don't fit they bring them back as someone else we need them. They will always fit a naked body I say," she laughs.

Image caption,
Jaywick began as a holiday resort, with homes becoming permanent residences after World War Two

Boo is philosophical about the latest negative publicity for her village.

"It is that which got the roads paved, because people could see how bad it was," she says.

She has a point: after Jaywick came bottom of the English deprivation index, money was found to make improvements, and the street used in the Republicans' advert has been spruced up.

Image source, Tendring District Council
Image caption,
Jaywick has undergone a £6.5m programme of improvements

And with the village now back in the limelight, it's hoped some positives could again come out of it.

Penelope Read lives on the Jaywick side of Clacton but has spent a lot of time in the village, including when she made a film in response to previous publicity.

Image caption,
Penelope Read made a film about Jaywick to show its good side

"Jaywick has its problems but it has spirit," she says.

"It needs someone to believe in the place. It needs some investment."

Mrs Read takes me on a tour of the village, including its community centre and community garden.

"It used to be the case that if you tried to do anything nice in Jaywick it would get vandalised - but that doesn't happen any more."

Photography by Laurence Cawley