Update from Baloo’s Youth Centre – building the new centre, football, learning and the threatre

One of the organisations we support in the Calais refugee camp is Baloo’s Youth Centre. This organisation provides a safe place for boys aged 12 – 18 to relax and learn while they live in the camp. The team sent us this update.

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It has been a funny week at Baloo’s as we are in a transition period between the old, small and slightly destroyed youth centre and the new, much larger building that is expected to be finished tomorrow. The construction of the new building has taken up much of the excitement and interest of both the staff and boys with some even helping with the drilling and painting (see below). All week the staff have been showing different boys the new centre in a build up of anticipation for its opening day. Today, we moved the table football table and pool table into the new building with the sofas and games arriving tomorrow.

Excited is an understatement; it will be such a breath of fresh air for both the boys and staff to move around freely in a spacious setting that enables the boys to play without fear of daily Jungle life. Once the building is sufficiently stocked up, we plan to build a fence around the perimeter to create both a psychological and physical barrier of protection from the rest of the camp, as well as complete the 5-a-side football pitch that is next to the building.

Baloo's 1

Baloo's 2

Baloo's 3

Baloo's 4


Aside from the new youth centre, activities have occurred throughout the week with the most successful being a science lesson on air dynamics taught through the use of paper airplanes. Although street football has been played, we have not been able to go to the beach this week due to the wet and windy weather. It demonstrates the importance of a 5-a-side pitch in the camp as it is protected from the wind and can be played whenever the time is right.

As well as classes, the boys had a nice surprise on Wednesday 3rd February of the theatrical production of Hamlet by Shakespeare’s Globe actors. Organised by the Good Chance Theatre there was a huge turnout of residents as well as volunteers and the Ashram Kitchen provided free chai for all which was dispensed by some of our teenagers. It was a nice change to experience the whole community coming together and everyone was on great form (although I’m not sure many understood what was going on in the play!)