Indigo Team Visit Projects in Calais

By Sonja Stiner

The Indigo team recently spent five days in Calais visiting projects and getting an on-the-ground perspective of the refugee and migrant situation in Northern France. 

At the beginning of July the Indigo team met with projects who provide vital support for men, women and children who are affected by displacement in Calais and Dunkirk. They met with projects such as Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK), Project Play and Refugee Women’s Centre to establish their volunteer needs and how Indigo can help.

Indigo not only connects volunteers to projects but also brings projects together for resource and knowledge sharing. Working in this way not only makes use of effective solutions to similar problems but also enables better and faster decision-making.

“A reason for our visit is to experience the migration route as we have done so in Serbia, Bosnia and Greece. Visiting Calais is a huge part of that journey” said Programme Manager, Ellsie Hewer.

The refugee situation in Northern France continues to fall off news agenda’s even though there are still around 1,500 refugees sleeping rough in the border town. This part of the migration route is unique compared to the rest of Europe as there are no camps since the destruction of ‘the jungle’ in 2016.

This means that many are sleeping rough in industrial areas, under bridges and in areas with no shelter or washing facilities. The French state’s hostility is a daily occurrence: evictions, police violence, confiscation of personal items, and the increased securitisation leave thousands of people traumatised and on the move.

Yet despite the difficult situation, the projects on the ground continue to distribute thousands of meals and items such as blankets and sleeping bags, hygiene kits, clothing, countless shoes and much more. 

The Indigo team volunteered with RCK who provide over 500 meals a day chopping vegetables, washing countless pots and going out on distribution in the Calais and Dunkirk area. While on distribution, they got to meet with refugees, whilst serving a fresh and warm meal.

“To share food is quite a human experience so going on a distribution with RCK felt like the most human distribution I’ve ever experienced” said Ellsie. 

“It felt like a bit of community where we can eat together if there is a chance”. 

To continue this work, RCK need enthusiastic volunteers every day to help deliver fresh and warm meals. 

If you would like to volunteer for a few days, weeks or months there are a range of roles you can help with – no task is too small or insignificant, they all contribute. 

Keen to get involved? Apply to volunteer.