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Help Refugees Newsletter – Time is of the essence to help refugees children

We sent out the latest newsletter today. If you would like to sign up or to view the original, please click here


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Two Hundred and Ninety Four MPs Vote Down Dubs Amendment

This article from Help Refugees volunteer Jack appeared in the Huffington Post on Wednesday 27th of April. Please click through to read on the Huffington Post website.

On Monday night, 294 MPs voted against the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration bill, tabled in the House of Lords, which would have seen the UK accept 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees from Europe. Two hundred and ninety-four. That’s the same number of unaccompanied minors Help Refugees found in the Calais ‘Jungle’ in their latest census. I have been working on the ground with Help Refugees since September. The first time we carried out a census – shortly before March’s eviction of the southern part of the camp – there were 423 unaccompanied children in the camp. Since then, 129 unaccompanied minors have vanished, unaccounted for, just 20 miles from the shores of the UK. I dread to think what number we will find when we complete the next census this weekend.

I have seen the CRS – French riot police – fire tear gas indiscriminately into the family field in Calais countless times, and yet in Monday’s Commons debate, 294 MPs voted against the Dubs Amendment on the basis that Europe is safe for children on their own. In Calais, less than 10% of child refugees feel safe, according to the Refugee Rights Data Project. They mainly fear state violence. France Terre D’Asile is the government-mandated organisation for child protection measures in the ‘Jungle’, and yet they have made zero effort to even register unaccompanied minors. Both the camp’s Women and Children’s Centre and Youth Centre have asked France Terre D’Asile to visit the camp for months, but so far they have managed one measly visit. The most they can provide is a five-day respite for a handful of children at any given time, before sending them back to the ‘Jungle’.

Before the latest eviction even started, I witnessed the government-employed Office for Immigration and Integration attempting to march some lone Afghan boys onto buses to accommodation centres across France. The minors didn’t even have time to pack their bags.

They had been told: “Jungle finish, one hour, we go.” OFII had no translators and one 14-year-old even thought he was going to England. Save the Children were there too, and have since condemned the actions of the French authorities. The incompetence of these organisations is symptomatic of a wider system that is consistently failing refugee children who have made it to Europe.

Europol conservatively estimates that at least 10,000 child refugees have gone missing since arriving in Europe last year, with many taken by criminal gangs and sexually exploited or sold into slavery. Given that 95,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in Europe in 2015, with some estimates suggesting up to 270,000 arrived in total, the 3,000 children suggested in the Dubs Amendment is just a drop in the ocean. But it would have been a start, and it is the bare minimum our country can do to help vulnerable children on our doorstep.

Do the 294 MPs who voted against the Dubs Amendment really believe that we should do nothing to help these unaccompanied minors in Europe? Perhaps they are afraid of seeming weak on immigration before the In/Out Referendum. On Monday’s showing, the only argument they could muster against the UK taking in 3,000 child refugees was that in doing so, we would create a ‘pull factor’ and encourage more to come. But these children aren’t being ‘pulled’ into Europe by the possibility of safety in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter. Rather, they are pushed across the Mediterranean by the certainty of war, terror and persecution.

Some 45% of the child refugees in Calais have family in the UK. That is why they want to go there, and family reunification is their legal right, but they are ignored by a government that would rather smear them as a ‘bunch of migrants’. The cruel truth for most of those children is that the best chance they have of reaching their families is by risking their lives attempting to enter the UK by boat, train or truck.

Between 1938 and 1939, the British government – a Conservative one, at that – took in 10,000 Jewish child refugees fleeing persecution in Europe. Nobody thought that would solve the whole problem then, but it had to be done to protect the most vulnerable. We cannot turn our back on their modern equivalents.

It’s ironic that the habit of harping on about what once ‘made this country great’ so often characterises the same types who voted against the Dubs Amendment. It’s ironic because, if anything ever ‘made this country great’, taking in Jewish child refugees with the Kindertransport scheme and securing rights for refugees after WWII most definitely did. If anything meant ‘British values’, I would like to think that did. We led the way then and we should lead the way now.

The House of Lords have voted the Dubs Amendment through again. Write to your local MP and sign the petition to make sure the House of Commons decision is different next time.

Jack is a volunteer with Help Refugees. For more info or to donate, go tohttp://www.helprefugees.org


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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‘Hungry Little Spoons’ food project up and running in Gaziantep, Turkey

Just 60 miles from Aleppo in Syria, Gaziantep in Turkey is now home to a huge proportion of the 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

On a recent visit there, we met Hungry Little Spoons, a fledgling organisation comprising volunteers from all over the world determined to provide food to some of the refugee families living in abject poverty. Help Refugees wanted to support them in this wonderful endeavour and provided spices, rice and other foodstuffs to get them going. As they establish themselves we will be providing continued help and support. This week we received the news that their very first food distribution has taken place and over 130 dishes of hearty nutritious soup were handed out. Most of the recipients were children under 15 years old, but some collected several portions and took them back to their families. All the food was gone in just twenty minutes.

Do watch this video to see how they got on.

Hungry Little Spoons hope to soon increase their distribution of food to 300 people a day.

We can help you help refugees in Turkey via projects such as these. Please donate here: http://mydonate.bt.com/charities/helprefugees


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Monday 25th: Statement on Commons Vote on Dubs Amendment

The House of Commons have voted 294 to 276 to reject the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Bill offering sanctuary to 3,000 of the 95,000 child refugees in Europe.

The children we work with daily have fled terror and conflict in the hope of finding safety on Europe’s shores. We are deeply disappointed that Britain’s politicians have voted against offering protection to 3,000 of these youngsters and that they remain vulnerable to exploitation and inhumane living conditions. We will continue to fight for their safeguarding and do everything possible to ensure they do not join the ranks of the 10,000 unaccompanied minors that Europol have charted as missing in Europe.

We are grateful to Lord Alf Dubs, himself a child refugee, Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer, Tim Farron and all who have campaigned on this issue.

 

Image: Westminster by Jlhopgood on Flickr


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Calais Needs: Items needed as of Monday 25th April

This week’s list of items needed in Calais by our amazing volunteers, updated Monday 25th April 2016.

If you wish to donate goods, please email Isabel on calaisdonations@gmail.com at least one week before you plan to set off. This will help Isabel and our other warehouse volunteers to organise the warehouse and plan for the distribution of goods.

Email Isabel to find out more about donation dates. Thank you for your time and support.


Food: We are running VERY LOW on food supplies. Material food donations are much more sustainable and logistically easier to arrange, so if you have funds available and are planning a delivery to the Auberge/Help Refugees warehouse, the most needed items are (most urgent at top) –

  • fresh fruit and veg (including salad and fresh herbs)
  • 1l UHT milk
  • 1kg sugar
  • onions and garlic
  • red lentils
  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • 1l oil
  • 1l olive oil
  • 1kg rice
  • tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel)
  • biscuit packets
  • tinned goods (tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • tea and coffee
  • 750g salt
  • dried fruit and nuts
  • tinned fruit and veg
  • vegetable stock cubes

Please bring ring pull tops and make sure everything is in date!

Clothing:

We are currently oversupplied with children’s clothes and toys, however are experiencing a shortfall of teenage boys (13-17 years old – see below). If you are able to donate those, that would be wonderful!

Men

  • Trainers especially sizes 41 to 43, and ideally black
  • Gloves
  • Small trousers (size 28 and 30)
  • Extra small and small Jumpers
  • Waterproof trousers
  • XS + S  tracksuit bottoms
  • S long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies

Women

  • Boots/ shoes up to size 39.  No heels!
  • Knickers (S + M)
  • Smaller cup size bras (up to 36C)
  • Warm, Waterproof coats (S + M)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Trousers (S, M, L) – jeans and tracksuit bottoms
  • Long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies (S + M)

Youth (boys)

  • Tracksuit bottoms – for ages 12-17
  • Jeans – for ages 12-17
  • Underwear – for ages 12-17 or men’s size small
  • Hoodies – sizes small and medium
  • Trainers (ideally black) – 40, 41, 42, 43.

Other

  • Bags for life
  • Volunteers, especially if you can stay more than a day or two! (if you wish to volunteer, please email volunteerincalais@gmail.com )
  • Padlocks (with keys, not codes please)
  • Underwear (men’s, women’s and teen)
  • Men’s gloves
  • Wind up/ solar torches and lanterns
  • Single foam mattresses (temporary need)
  • Thick woollen Blankets
  • Bike locks and bike repair kits
  • Hygiene items: saline solution, toilet roll, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, baby wipes, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, tissues, shower gel
  • Back packs (small for grab bags, large for possessions)
  • 130l strong bin bags
  • Thick rubber bands
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Goody bags of hats, gloves, scarves and two pairs of socks
  • Foil blankets (to go underneath sleeping mats
  • Waterproof warm winter coats and waterproof trousers
  • Tarpaulins
  • Firewood
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Campbeds
  • Single mattress toppers
  • Dark/plain single duvet covers
  • Non-electric kettles
  • Tin openers
  • Mugs
  • Flat pack cardboard boxes (size 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48)
  • Building materials – especially pallets!! (if you are bringing any or have any building skills you’d like to put to good use, please email calaisbuild@gmail.com)

Please only bring items from this list. We cannot currently accept any other items.

Our Calais warehouse is now supporting both the Calais and Dunkerque camps; receiving, sorting and delivering all aid required in the two camps every day. More than ever we need large volumes of very specific items. Help us to service the needs of the people in the camps to the best of our ability by studying the information on this page carefully before you plan your trip. We rely on a large volunteer workforce to supply the camps with the items they desperately need and we are currently very low on volunteers. We simply do not have the people power to sort through the items we don’t require, which are taking up an inordinate amount of space in our busy warehouse. 

HOW TO ORGANISE GOODS

Try to concentrate on one or two items as a large amount of one item is much quicker and easier to distribute than a mixed load of many items.

It is very important that goods are clean, pre-sorted and clearly labelled e.g. a box of walking boots size 44, a bag of men’s jeans size 32, or pre-packaged food parcels.

If you want to be a real star then the best box sizes are 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48

HOW TO DONATE

To deliver aid to the warehouse and/or to arrange distribution in the camp with the support of experienced volunteers, please complete this form

If you have any questions, please email calaisdonations@gmail.com


CLICK AND DONATE FOR DELIVERY STRAIGHT TO CALAIS

The wonderful people at Leisure Fayre have made it super easy to get these urgently needed items directly to Calais. Calais urgently needs sleeping bags and blankets.

Go to LesiureFayre, click on the Help Refugees logo to get to our specially selected list of most needed items and make your selection. To get 20% discount and free delivery to Calais, use the login and password provided on the checkout page.

Many thanks to Leisure Fayre for being so kind!

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Mobile ‘medibus’ clinic for Greece in Doctors of the World + Help Refugees partnership

As refugees arrives in Greece after arduous journeys and suffer the appalling conditions of camping or sleeping rough with only simple provisions from grassroots groups to keep them going, medical care becomes one of the most profound humanitarian contributions we can make.

When Doctors of the World told us they would need a mobile clinic to best serve the 12000 plus population in the North of Greece around the Idomeni border and the intense conditions in the central Greece camps, we had no hesitation in stepping in and helping them purchase their first mobile clinic or ‘medibus’ as they have dubbed it.

The medibus has already been to Larissa, a desert-like site where around 1,000 refugees are camped with no formal medical provisions. The area is one of the hottest places in the country, with temperatures in the medibus reaching 41 degrees in recent days. Doctors of the World working on the ground in the camp say living conditions are horrendous. Over a third of refugees have medical complaints, including respiratory conditions and parasite infestations.

Doctors of the World coordinator Geraldine Delestienne said: “In the camp there is one tree for a thousand refugees seeking shade to escape the unbearable heat. Poisonous snakes and scorpions enter tents. Many refugees suffer from dehydration and extreme sunburns. It does feel like a small hell.”

Doctors of the World added: “We can’t solve the refugee crisis, but having the support of Help Refugees means we can continue to make a difference to the people in need living in places like Larissa”.

We are honoured to collaborate with Doctors of the World on this project, and support them in their inspiring work helping thousands of the most vulnerable people living in the worst conditions.

Going forward, Doctors of the World plans to take the mobile clinic to the Volos camp to assess medical needs there, as well as continuing consultations in Larissa.

We are proud to be supporting such an inspiring organisation and working together to create a bigger impact on the ground.


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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HELP REFUGEES STATEMENT ON THE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT RE: 3000 CHILDREN

We welcome the Government’s confirmation today that they will bring 3,000 vulnerable child refugees from refugee camps in the Middle East and North Africa by 2020.

However, this position was first announced on January 28th and still offers nothing to the 95,000 unaccompanied children who need protection within Europe, other than what the Government is legally bound to do under International Regulations.

This was not enough for the House of Lords who voted in favour of the amendment to the Immigration Bill by Lord Alf Dubs (himself a child refugee who came to Britain on the Kindertransport from Germany in World War Two) to bring 3,000 unaccompanied children to Britain from within Europe. This is not enough for us.

The Dubs amendment will be voted on in the Commons next Monday, the 25th April. The announcement today should not detract from this vote, nor from the urgent needs of these vulnerable children at risk of being exploited, trafficked, abused or worse. Europol have stated that 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children are already missing in Europe. Since the recent demolitions in Calais, a census by Help Refugees revealed that the whereabouts of 129 unaccompanied minors were completely unknown.

We urge MP’s to vote in favour of the Dubs Amendment. We have a moral duty to offer sanctuary and protection to these children and offer them a real chance at life.

 

Image by Daniel Castro Garcia


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

Read more

Calais Needs: Items needed as of Monday 18th April

This week’s list of items needed in Calais by our amazing volunteers, updated Monday 18th April 2016.

If you wish to donate goods, please email Isabel on calaisdonations@gmail.com at least one week before you plan to set off. This will help Isabel and our other warehouse volunteers to organise the warehouse and plan for the distribution of goods.

Email Isabel to find out more about donation dates. Thank you for your time and support.


Please note that you MUST register your donation delivery HERE in order to drop off your donations! The address will be sent to you once you register. Please also be aware that no deliveries will be unloaded before 10am or after 5pm, as the team needs to prepare for distributions. If you are volunteering with us, please come from 9am, and your donations will be processed later on in the day.

If possible, please aim to bring donations on a weekday as the weekends are our busiest time. However, we do appreciate that this does not fit into many people’s schedules so please do not let this put you off booking for a Saturday or Sunday!

If you are able to bring your donations during the week it would be so helpful as weekends, and especially Saturdays, are always the busiest days

Please find below the current list of priority needs:

What we desperately need at this point in time are volunteers (please email volunteerincalais@gmail.com) and financial donations! These are hugely appreciated in cash to enable us to make emergency purchases of essential items required in the camps when our stocks run out. You can also click here to donate

Clothing:

We are currently oversupplied with children’s clothes and toys, however are experiencing a shortfall of teenage boys (13-17 years old – see below). If you are able to donate those, that would be wonderful!
Men:

  • Trainers especially sizes 41 to 43, and ideally black
  • S, M long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies
  • S, M  tracksuit bottoms
  • Waterproof trousers
  • S, M new underwear (not Y-fronts)
  • Gloves

Women:

  • XS, S, M leggings
  • XS, S, M tracksuit bottoms
  • S, M Knickers
  • Boots/shoes up to size 39.  No heels!
  • Smaller cup size bras (up to 36C)
  • Warm, Waterproof coats (S + M)
  • Waterproof trousers

Youth (boys):

  • Tracksuit bottoms – for ages 12-17
  • Jeans – for ages 12-17
  • Underwear – for ages 12-17 or men’s size small
  • Hoodies – sizes small and medium
  • Trainers (ideally black) – 40, 41, 42, 43.

Mobile Distribution:

  • Lights (wind up and solar powered)
  • Camp beds (and foam mattress toppers)
  • Non-electric metal kettles
  • Washing up liquid
  • Padlocks (with keys, not codes please)
  • Mugs (tin and plastic only)
  • Chopping boards
  • Water carriers
  • Bags for Life
  • Single dark duvet covers
  • Tin openers
  • Single foam mattresses
  • Thermoses

Hygiene:

  • Toilet paper
  • Men’s razors
  • Deodorant (men’s)
  • Shower gel and shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Nappies (only numbers 4, 5 and 6)
  • Wash bags
  • Baby formula (especially numbers 2 and 3)

Food: we are running very low on food supplies. Material food donations are much more sustainable and logistically easier to arrange, so if you have funds available and are planning a delivery to the Auberge/ Help Refugees warehouse, the most needed items (most urgent at top)

  • Fresh fruit and veg (including salad and fresh herbs)
  • 1l UHT milk
  • 1kg sugar
  • Onions and garlic
  • Red lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • 1l oil
  • 1l olive oil
  • 1kg rice
  • Tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel)
  • Biscuit packets
  • Tinned goods (tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • Tea and coffee
  • 750g salt
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Tinned fruit and veg
  • Vegetable stock cubes

Please bring ring pull tops and make sure everything is in date!
Warehouse and Office Needs:

  • Rubble sacks
  • 130L and 110L strong bags
  • Orange tape
  • Brown parcel tape
  • Serang wrap
  • Permanent markers
  • Thick rubber bands
  • Ink cartridges (Canon Pixma 540 XL Black and Colour – for a Canon Pixma MG3550 printer)
  • A4 lever arch folders
  • Polythene pockets (for lever arch files)
  • A4 printer paper

Miscellaneous:

  • Thick blankets
  • Rolling suitcases
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Bike locks and repair kits
  • Fire wood

Please only bring item from this list. We cannot currently accept any other items items.

Thank you!

SORTING GUIDELINES:

Please note that your donations MUST be sorted – if any items are damaged, soiled or inappropriate for the camp, they will create an enormous amount of waste, which delays vital aid reaching the refugees. We cannot accept deliveries that are unsorted, as our volunteers can be snowed under the mountain of unsorted donations. Please try to only bring 3 or 4 types of items in your delivery. However, we understand that this is not always possible, and we still appreciate your help. To efficiently sort your donations, please separate them into type eg blankets separate from clothing. Clothing and shoes will need to be separated (and then packed and accordingly labelled) by gender, size and type. For instance men’s M jumpers separate from the S. Women’s size 39 boots separate from women’s size 40 trainers, waterproof coats, separate from non-waterproof coats.

This saves the incredibly hard-working warehouse volunteers so much time and allows us to get the donations to the refugees considerably more quickly and more efficiently. We are currently sufficiently stocked up for quite some time with women and children’s items, except for the items mentioned in the priority list. If you need more guidelines on how to sort, please email me back and I will be happy to help.

 

You can also donate to our Calais and Dunkerque page here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/calaisdunkirk-refugee-support

If you wish to send Emergency Supplies by post, please consider our wishlist at http://www.leisurefayre.com, where we have secured a generous 20% discount and fast postage with the distributor, who sends them directly to us as soon as possible! Similarly, this is our Amazon wishlist, delivered straight to us: http://bitly.com/amazon_helprefugees

For more guidelines, please check this Donations page on Calaidipedia: http://www.calaidipedia.co.uk/donations

If you wish help our building teams’ spectacular efforts, please donate here: https://www.youcaring.com/l-auberge-des-migrants-building-project-in-calais-480547

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Help Refugees visit Gaziantep, Southern Turkey

On our recent trip to Gaziantep in the South of Turkey near the Syrian border Help Refugees helped set up a food programme for Syrian Refugees living in the City, many of whom are homeless.

We joined forces with Geged on the project, a volunteer programme already on the ground helping to educate Syrian refugees and often acting as the bridge to getting children back into school.

Through their work with these children they have seen a need for such a food programme as many Syrians are living in derelict ruins and are struggling to feed themselves.

Geged needed the start up funds to buy the cooking utensils such as pots, pans and gas as well as to bulk buy staple items such as rice and pasta to begin their work. Help Refugees were thrilled to be able to provide this.

We will be continuing to fund Geged’s food programme which will be feeding 300 refugees per meal time. The team on the ground will be making sure that each portion is nutritionally balanced as well as delicious.

Donate to Help Refugees here: https://mydonate.bt.com/donation/start.html…


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

Read more

Update from Refugee Youth Service (formerly Baloo’s) – return to routine, art expression and plans for expansion

One of the organisations we support in the Calais refugee camp is The Refugee Youth Service (formerly Baloo’s). The Youth Service provides a safe place for boys aged 12 – 18 to relax, play and learn while they live in the camp. The team sent this update about their plans in the aftermath of the demolition including branching out to Dunkirk.

After the chaos of the last month it has been essential to bring normalcy to the 12 – 18 year olds in the camp. Tensions have been high and the relocations have meant that the mental wellbeing of the boys has been extremely unstable. Therefore the team at the Youth Centre have worked hard to resume the routine we had earlier in the year of sports and education/ creativity to bring structure back into the lives of these children. Sports once more runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with education/ creativity occurring on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This week we have already played football on No-Man’s Land on Monday and had a French artist conduct an art therapy session on Tuesday. The art session was designed to be as free as possible allowing the boys to draw whatever they wished. Expressing themselves through chalk, the boys found a sense of calm in this and the finished drawings are extremely powerful. Some drew pictures of what made them happy, others of what made them sad, and some drew pictures of their lives in the Jungle (as the pictures below reveal). England’s victory over Afghanistan at cricket encouraged us to play our own match, which England unfortunately lost rather heavily!

April update from Baloo (3)

This week included a visit from pop up cinema Play4Calais who screened Star Trek for the teenage boys – it was a huge success and the total absorption in the film allowed everyone to forget all their worries for the duration.

April update from Baloo (4)

This week we also supplied 48 of the boys with a whole set of new clothing. We prefer the use of ‘personal shopping’ so that instead of being handed a pair of trousers that may be the wrong size we collect a list of what the boys need/ want and the volunteers at the Help Refugees/ L’Auberge des Migrant warehouse collect and package their belongings into personalised bags (as seen in the pictures below).  It was a huge success and we plan on doing this regularly.

April update from Baloo (5)

Unfortunately a music activity including dancing and drumming was interrupted when tear gas from police along the buffer zone forced us to close our doors with the boys inside to stop the gas from coming in. One boy who was hit in the leg by a tear gas canister merely shrugged it off when asked if he was okay and said that it was “normal”. Another boy told one of the staff members, “Can you see now, they’re poisoning us!” These conditions are psychologically damaging to all who live here, especially children who are only now gaining a foothold into life

April update from Baloo (6)

However on a more positive note, Refugee Youth Service can announce that it is now expanding into Dunkirk. We will begin the project by being in the Dunkirk camp between the hours of 11am and 5pm three days a week where we will run a pop-up youth service. We will aim to provide as many of Calais Jungle services as possible here, this way, operating out of a temporary space that be put up and taken down on each of these days.  If we feel that there is a demand for our service full time then we hope to replicate the space we have created in Calais.


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

Read more