A LITTLE red "phone box" in Cowley Road is bridging cultural and social divides by linking Oxford to desperate refugees in Calais.

Pop-up installation The Channel was set up over the weekend and allows passers-by to exchange voice messages with people in the sprawling camp known as the Jungle.

The initiative was started by Oxford Brookes University student Isobel Tarr, 28, who came up with the idea the structure after volunteering in the Jungle herself and finding the return journey home took just three hours.

It is made from wood and MDF, the same as the makeshift shelters in Calais.

She said: "After I came back I was in my local shop and felt as though I may as well be in the same country.

"Nearly 10,000 people are in Calais and are waiting to be recognised.

"It felt important both for people's awareness of the human impact of this, but also for the people in he camps to know that they have been heard".

A small team of multi-skilled volunteers are manning the operation at both ends using iPads and microphones, supported by Cowley charity Asylum Welcome.

Among them is Oxford linguist Fuchsia Hart, who is helping Arabic, Dari and Farsi-speaking refugees record and translate their messages from the Jungle.

She said: "At first people are unsure what to say but they come back later and often have very strong statements to make, or experiences to share.

"Often the person feels empowered because they have been heard. One person received high-fives from his friends; they said that he said what they were all thinking."

So far most messages from the Oxford end have been of welcome and support, as well as people's opinions of British and French government policy on the issue so far.

Those from Calais have been descriptions of life in the camp, reasons why the refugees are looking to come to Britain and what they are running from.

A poetry exchange using snatches of English and Persian verse – as well as some made-up lines of poetry – also took place on Tuesday.

Ms Tarr said: "We have learned a huge amount. We hope we can explain more of what we have planned in the coming months, because this situation is not going away".

The box will be manned from 10am to 3pm outside East Oxford Community Centre until Saturday.

After that it will be replaced by a mobile phone app, which is currently in development.

More live installations in Oxford and across the UK are planned for the spring.

For more information on The Channel visit tinyurl.com/hlkr6c4