Northern France, December 13-14, 2023
This was our last trip to France this year, while we were back in Dunkirk after a while which brings its own perspective. The weather was cold, wet and windy. In both Dunkirk and Calais we offered training for frontline staff on Psychological First Aid and psychosocial activities.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the capsizing of a small boat in the English Channel in freezing waters, with the loss of four lives. A group of people have also survived and are trying to make sense of the complex asylum system in the UK. The government’s latest hostile Rwanda bill passed its first vote in the Commons on Tuesday evening, while the lack of safe legal routes continues to lead people to make these dangerous crossings.
In the psychosocial activities van we worked with our Médecins du Monde colleagues to support a group space in which men, and small family groups, were able to gather their resources. Sitting inside out of the wind and rain while waiting to see the doctor, people were able to make use of the materials using plasticine, building and beads.
With our colleagues we reflected on the importance of having such mediated psychosocial spaces. Collectively we recognise in the northern France setting that art and creative means of support give hope and cultural connection in these incredibly difficult times, and ‘we all came here from somewhere’.
Words by Miriam Usiskin and Bobby Lloyd.
*from ‘We Refugees’ 2003 by Benjamin Zephaniah