Art making, art therapy and training on the France-UK border at Calais





In summer 2015, Médecins du Monde invited Art Refuge to join their delivery of essential psychological services in the camp. We responded by offering open art therapy groups for two days weekly until the camp closed in October 2016 and have continued to work in the area on a fortnightly basis. Art Refuge was unique in offering psychological support to all people, regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender or age, until the closure of the camp at the end of October 2016. We continue to provide this support in as cohesive and stable a manner as possible.

Our project currently takes place in partnership with Médecins du Monde and the charity Secours Catholique, in a refugee day centre, a safe house and alongside a mobile clinic.  


Around 70 refugees taking part in our fortnightly arts-based groups. 95% of refugees who make it to the France-UK border at Calais are male, and most of our work is with unaccompanied young refugees, as well as adult men, and a small number of women and families.

We use maps, kites, cyanotype, photography, film, stop-frame animation, building materials, plasticine and manual typewriters; adapting these to context.​ In addition, one of our tools is The Community Table which has evolved out of practice in the day centre and safe house spaces in Calais, and can be adapted for other settings. 


We have developed a particular set of skills when working with hundreds of young asylum seekers and refugees during our four and a half year programme in Calais. A small handful of these individuals have made their way to our groups in Bristol where our spaces also utilise creative, flexible, culturally attuned approaches. 



Alongside our art therapy work, we also provide Psychosocial Training for organisations working in northern France, thereby helping to support other workers on the ground and further our partnerships with other services in the area. 

The sessions include training in:

  • trauma, coping and resilience

  • secondary trauma and self-care

  • working to personal strengths and limitations

  • working across cultures, faiths

  • working on borders and in hostile environments

  • adapting work to different settings

  • safeguarding

  • arts-based psychosocial activities


  • ‘Really good course, learnt so much and reconfirmed a lot of what I do, but learnt more skills and ideas that I can use.’ ‘Massively reassuring and motivating.’

  • ‘Thank you for supporting the creative process and emotional stability of everyone here in Calais.’

  • ‘Really enjoyed having space to slow down, be in a new space with new people and reflect.’ 

  • ‘What I found the most interesting today was more in your attitude, the atmosphere you manage to create than in your words and theory. It's certainly the best way to help us to figure how it happens in your real world of therapy with the refugees.’​

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you if you would like to get involved with fundraising, becoming a trustee or becoming a corporate sponsor. We currently do not have any opportunities for volunteering or higher education placements but we will make call-outs on our website and social media if any opportunities arise.


We will always endeavour to respond as soon as we can. 

Thank you for your support.


Number 30, The Coach House, 2, Upper York Street, Bristol, BS2 8QN

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Privacy Policy

Designed by

All photographs copyright Art Refuge 

© Art Refuge 2021
Registered Charity 1114353