After the chaos of the last month it has been essential to bring normalcy to the 12 – 18 year olds in the camp. Tensions have been high and the relocations have meant that the mental wellbeing of the boys has been extremely unstable.
Therefore the team at the Youth Centre have worked hard to resume the routine we had earlier in the year of sports and education/ creativity to bring structure back into the lives of these children. Sports once more runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with education/ creativity occurring on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Recently, we have had the young people organise a big cricket match which was very successful, played football on the pitches (we are being allowed access to them at the moment, sometimes the police will not allow us) and we have had a French artist conduct an art therapy session. The art session was designed to be as free as possible allowing the boys to draw whatever they wished. Expressing themselves through chalk, the boys found a sense of calm in this and the finished drawings are extremely powerful.
Some drew pictures of what made them happy, others of what made them sad, and some drew pictures of their lives in the Jungle.
As well as resuming the activities at the Youth Centre, the team have also focused heavily on collaborating with other organisations working in the Jungle. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Hummingbird charity runs art and crafts workshops, Thursdays and Fridays, Art Refuge UK, an NGO that supports displaced people through art and art therapy, runs a workshop. These workshops are both in the building adjacent to our own. We have begun taking the boys there individually to get some down time, which has proved extremely successful in calming the most disruptive boys. We are also working much closer with Medicine Sans Frontier who provide mental health support to some of the boys and our joint outreach sessions have ensured that concerns are raised quickly and dealt with efficiently by the right people.
Finally we joined France Terre D’Asile on an outreach programme to talk to unaccompanied minors about claiming asylum in France and explaining to them the process. We plan to continue these partnerships to ensure that the boys have the best possible support available to them.