In August, we were pleased to take a group of six young people from Breckland on a three day volunteer project in Calais, working with Help Refugees UK to support refugees sleeping rough in former ‘Jungle’ sites. Youth Work Services Operations Manager, Claire Boothby Barnbrook explains more:
“The project, funded by Breckland Youth Advisory Board and Breckland Council, was aimed at exploring diversity and attitudes towards refugees and migration. The six young people who took part, participated in four preparation workshops in the run up to the trip, where they learnt about resilience, diversity and equality issues, as well as planning for the trip away.”
On days one and two, the group were given a tour of the Help Refugees UK warehouse, which receives donations of clothes, food and equipment from France and the UK, and talks from one of the project coordinators and the local Refugee Women’s Centre. These talks helped give the group some understanding of the issues faced by refugees on their way to Calais, once they arrive and what their futures are likely to hold.
Claire continues: “We performed a number of volunteer roles during our visit, from sorting donated sleeping bags, to sorting clothes for specific gender and age groups for new arrivals in Calais, to cleaning tarpaulins that could be used as makeshift shelters, to working the kitchen helping prepare the 1500 meals a day that the Refugee Kitchen distributes throughout Calais and Dunkirk.
On our final day, we went to visit Dunkirk museum to find out about the famous evacuation of Allied soldiers by British ships and boats during World War Two. Overall it was a massive learning experience for young people and staff alike. It was hugely rewarding.”
The only way I can describe is - I feel like I've been set free.