This post appears in Can I Bring Ivy: a blog about volunteering with kids – February 2017.
We helped in Calais again this month. It’s a lot quieter than it was last time I was there – which was just before the evictions. They’d rather a few more people! But there was a small upside to this. It’s alot easier to volunteer with a young person when it’s not full to the rafters.
I met Libby and Maia. The whole three days I was there they were beavering away at the ‘dry food’ – bagging up sugar, spices, olives… it goes to the free shop at the Dunkirk camp, among other places. I asked if they’d mind a few cheesy pictures and a chat about what they think of it all.
It started as them coming along with an experienced chef and then finding something to do. Now the dry foods are their expert area, but the first time they came Maia helped out almost everywhere. clothes sorting, veggie chopping…
Why does Maia like it? we talked a lot about how nice it is to feel you’re doing something that matters, and getting to the end of it. Each small task has an end. And Maia is happy that she can do SOMETHING, as she’s aware of how many people are forced to move and how difficult their conditions are.
Last time they came, they made a load of mini videos – Maia showed them in an assembly at her school. I’m not sure it was what she intended – she said something like “my teacher just told me “you’re doing an assembly!” Well, good on that teacher.
Mum Libby: “I had at least six Mums tell me they want to come and help after that assembly.”
They might not have made it. They probably didn’t. But in her school there are also a few refugees – so the chances are some of the kids in her school will now have a litte snapshot of how their lives panned out up til now, and the interactions between everyone might just be a little more empathetic
And just recently, MPs voted 247-1 to maintain our promise to the unaccompanied children in Calais. Some of them have changed their minds since last time and there has been some pretty strong lobbying up and down the country.
This warehouse in Calais isn’t the perfect place to volunteer with a kid. The woodyard certainly isn’t! But this pair have made it work, and the rewards for everyone are pretty immense. Other times we’ve involved all ages in making spice bags – no travel required! and there are ways you can make most things work.
Vounteering isn’t just about the task that you do. It’s the glitter bomb of things that happen as a result of that one task. They happen inside… and they happen to others.
I support people coordinating volunteers through advice, project work and training.
Online courses – access from anywhere!