Art Refuge UK is planning to undertake a two month art therapy pilot project from mid September 2015, in response to the severe and diverse psychosocial needs of the refugees and migrants living in the camp known as the ‘Jungle’ in Calais, northern France, just the other side of the English Channel from Dover.
As a team we want to act now at this moment in time and to use our valuable experience and skills to do so. We are asking for your support as we know others want to do something about this situation too.
The camp is currently populated by more than 4,000 in number and growing by up to 150 people each day. While most are men, there is a worrying and growing number of women, children and teenagers, many of the latter arriving unaccompanied. The majority are refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea who carry with them traumatic experiences of political violence, fear and torture. Accompanied by incredibly dangerous and distressing journeys to Europe, many are struggling to cope with the trauma and psychological impact of their experiences and are increasingly vulnerable within the camp.
THE URGENT NEED FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT
Psychosocial support emphasises the importance for an individual’s wellbeing of connections with other individuals, groups and communities, particularly the interaction between people; and it focuses on ways in which individuals and communities can become stronger and more resilient.
As the extremity of the situation continues to increase, the desperate need for specialist psychosocial support has been identified by Medecins du Monde, the only NGO operating formally in the camp. Medecins du Monde has been providing emergency medical support Monday-Friday and one psychologist for one day per fortnight. It is currently in the urgent process of developing a small psychosocial programme but with no additional funds.
ART THERAPY WITHIN THE CAMP
Throughout August, ArtRefuge UK art therapist Naomi Press worked in the camp for Medecins du Monde and with the support of their psychologist, started to trial an art therapy space in their new psychosocial support tent. This was rapidly full to capacity with men and teenagers seeking out a safe space within which to sit alone and with others, engage in art-making and begin to process some of their experiences. Naomi’s specialist training enabled her to respond sensitively to individuals’ verbal and non-verbal communications, to recognise and respond appropriately to signs of trauma and other mental health issues, and to bear witness through their images, to people’s traumatic stories and testimonies. The art-making space encouraged connections to be fostered between people, and human experience to be shared across different languages and cultures. Over this short time such a space already allowed a number of children and adults to start to recover some sense of meaning, agency, hope in an otherwise often helpless situation, and Naomi even witnessed small moments of joy.
WHAT WE WILL DO
In partnership with Medecins du Monde’s psychology department, a small team of specialist Art Refuge UK art therapists will provide a two month art therapy space for both referred and self-referring refugees, alongside expert training and support for Medecin du Monde’s volunteers in delivering relevant and effective psychosocial interventions and activities, and a referral on process, to begin meeting the psychological needs of the refugees. The impact of the pilot activities will be carefully monitored and evaluated so that the learning can be used to develop a sustainable service for as long as it is needed.
WHY ART REFUGE UK IS BEST PLACED TO DELIVER THIS WORK
Since 2006, Art Refuge UK has specialised in working with displaced people in India, Nepal and the UK, and is uniquely well placed to respond to the complex needs of people in the Calais camp, while its team of registered art therapists bring knowledge and experience of working with refugees in countries across the world.
This work will take place alongside our ongoing work in Nepal with refugees, as well as local skills support/training for carers and professionals post the April and May earthquakes.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
To begin reaching out in this way to these people in urgent need, right here on our doorstep, we need your support to reach our campaign appeal target of £10,000.
We thank you for supporting this important work.
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