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.
This week saw the project launch of Refugee Youth Service Dunkirk, which we are thrilled to say was a great success. This is a project that we have been attempting to begin for past two months, but due to the volatile nature of the environment we work in there have been a number of delaying factors. However, after many discussions with the existing organisations on the ground, and with the help of their volunteers we finally believed the time to be right to begin our work. On Tuesday evening a pop up youth space was ran for 2 hours, featuring some of the many popular activities that are run in Baloo’s youth centre Calais, during which 10-15 young people attended, all of whom appeared to enjoy themselves. The feedback from existing volunteers who aided the session was particularly interesting, with one saying ‘I know that this project will have a great impact on the teenagers in the camp, which definitely showed through yesterday. I haven’t seen R that happy in a months’.
Of course we are in the very early stages of this project, and many challenges lie ahead, in particular the creation an appropriate, permanent and secure space for us to operate from, and tailoring a new program to the needs of the young people in Dunkirk. Our aim as an organisation is to develop the sophisticated support systems and processes that are needed to aid social development, help maintain good mental health, and protect young people from the dangers that they face daily.
The temporary space used, kindly given to us by Utopia 56, can be seen in the picture above. The space was well suited to the session, and will be used in future sessions until we are able to build the permanent structure previously mentioned.
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!