Latymer pupils volunteer for Care4Calais

This summer term 20 of our Year 12 pupils volunteered to work with ‘Care4Calais’ – the refugee charity. The aims of the trip were for pupils to help the charity with their operations, take some much needed donated items and enhance their understanding of the refugee crisis and the situation in Calais.

Undoubtedly a life-changing experience, the students approached the tough realities of the migrant crisis with sensitivity and maturity, helping to organise the donations in the warehouse and assisting with the distributions in the makeshift camps in the afternoons. We plan another service trip this coming October.  

Care4Calais wrote to us after the trip:

They [Latymer students]came to volunteer with our charity (Care4Calais – we support refugees in France, Belgium and Italy), and I wanted you to know how impressed we were both with the students themselves, but also with the program your school is running that this visit was part of.

What impressed me about the teachers from your school is that the visit was not just about giving the students a social purpose (laudable enough though that would be), but also that the subject of the refugee crisis more broadly had been approached with them from various perspectives including social impact, political context and its place in history. .

As well as their intellectual appreciation of the nuances of the subject, they were compassionate and sensitive with the refugees, many of who are severely traumatised. They were also willing to work hard and get stuck in with the less glamorous (and sometimes dirty) work in the warehouse, possibly the side that would be less expected of students from a privileged school.”

The service learning work included:

Warehouse work:

• Sorting donated items into care packages for refugees

• Opening boxes of donated items and sorting

• Packaging up donated items for shipping

• General warehouse maintenance and tidying

Educational work:

• Mobile English workshops – the refugees listed language workshops as their number one desired activity in a recent survey

• Art and Music workshops – volunteers facilitate art and music workshops at camps and French ‘welcome centres’

• Sports Days – Care4Calais provide refugees with the chance to play a range of sports, such as cricket, football and volleyball

Emotional support and representation:

“One of the toughest things in Calais is morale. People can survive all kinds of things as long as they have hope.” Care4Calais website.

• Volunteers meet and talk to refugees, recording their feedback – this offers an invaluable opportunity for NGO workers to get feedback and find out how and where the aid response can be improved

• Provide arriving refugees with information about their legal rights and a list of telephone numbers to offer support; allow calls to be made on loan of Care4Calais phone

Distribution of food, blankets, clothing and hygiene supplies

• Take part in a clothing distribution – which involves either taking names and orders for clothes, shoes and sleeping bags or handing one or two items per person

• Food distributions are also carried out

Author: carolineroberts

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