This Easter we have an exceptional team from Oxford2Calais working with us including 8 lawyers 14 medics and 15 translators who speak Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. And we have certainly put them to good use! The medics have been working with the medical team, the lawyers have been at the legal centre, and the translators have been, well, everywhere....
In particular we decided to do a qualitative survey across the camp as there have been a lot of changes recently. The terrible destruction of the evictions and the horrific violence we saw against refugees have left people feeling crushed and hopeless. We wanted to evaluate how and where help is most needed right now.
Things the refugees told us include the following:
- In general the need for clothes/ bedding etc is not as desperate as a few months ago, although these things will always be needed
- They need underwear more than jumpers, and they prefer it to be black!
- They still desperately need gas... there is never enough...
- Food needs to be culturally sensitive (they don't like baked beans)
- They do not like moving out of their own area of the camp - even the now reduced camp. They are often not aware of facilities available on the opposite side of the camp to where they live.
- families are not comfortable being around a lot of single men
- communities can be anchored by religion as well as by ethnic group
- services they are most interested in are asylum workshops and English lessons, and maybe art
- services are much more useful in the afternoon due to the way the camp works
- there is a fatigue with receiving aid and a dislike of continual handouts and of having to take them, this is not good for self esteem
- they have lost faith and hope in trying to make anything better.
We are considering our response to this but initial thoughts are as follows:
- Please keep sending us aid, especially underwear and socks
- we always need money to refill gas bottles. At around €1,000/week this is our biggest expense
- we would like to do more community outreach projects going forward. We need translators, people who want to do English or art workshops, asylum lawyers
- thank you so much to all our supporters. We want to help the refugees in as many ways as possible and we couldn't do it without you.
To volunteer or donate see www.care4calais.org