CamCRAG is a registered charity who organise regular weekend volunteer convoys from Cambridge to Calais. We also collect donations and funds to help refugees in Europe and beyond.
CamCRAG is a registered charity who organise regular weekend volunteer convoys from Cambridge to Calais. We also collect donations and funds to help refugees in Europe and beyond.
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Volunteering with Roots

In March CamCRAG sponsored Flavia to spend time volunteering with Roots in Dunkirk. She reports back on her time with the NGO.

Over the past three weeks I’ve been working with Roots in Dunkirk, a small and dynamic grassroots NGO supporting people on the move in the Grande-Synthe area. Roots has many projects meaning there was always new things to learn and every day was different. The work was split between warehouse work and working in the field, both vital to keep an NGO running smoothly. My time with Roots has been incredibly fulfilling and positive.

Roots’ pivotal initiative revolves around ensuring access to clean water for those on the move. Recognising the insufficiency and inadequacy of the state-provided water point, Roots established and maintains five additional water points. The water points are 1000 litre intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) which we refill three times a day. This involved a coordinated effort to transport water from a nearby farm to the various locations around Grande-Synthe. Whilst filling up the water at the camps we would also distribute toothbrushes, razors, sanitary pads and tampons. We would fill up bottles of shower gel, shampoo, hand wash and clothes wash to bottles attached to the IBCs and leave deodorant and shaving foam too. We would then bleach the taps and wipe down any surfaces. These water points are also used as spaces for people to access valuable information through information posters attached to the IBCs.

Twice a week, we set up a community hub complete with charging stations and Wi-Fi access. Witnessing the significance of digital inclusion firsthand was eye-opening, as individuals utilised technology to reconnect with their families and loved ones. During community hub days we stay in camp all day, from around 10am until 4pm, which meant we had lots of time to play football and chat to the refugees who were around. I loved speaking to people at the community hub, and they would share their stories and languages, so I managed to pick up some phrases in Pashto and Arabic.

Three times a week we would distribute hot meals on behalf of the amazing Refugee Community Kitchen, who are based in Calais, ensuring that basic nutritional needs were met. It was interesting to see how all the NGOs in Dunkirk coordinate with each other to make sure all the needs are being met. For example, hot meals twice a day, medical aid and then non-food items like sleeping bags, tents, shoes and more.

Each week we would do litter picks in the distribution areas, addressing the lack of waste disposal infrastructure in the camps.

While I was there we witnessed the hostile police approach, with unmarked police vans constantly patrolling the area. The response to refugees and the disparities in access to safety and opportunity underscored the urgency of systemic change. I felt guilty that I had the privilege to leave Dunkirk whenever I pleased, how I could easily get on the train to take me back to England. The juxtaposition between my own ease of mobility and the struggles of the people on the move evoked a sense of responsibility and solidarity.

Living in the warehouse was a great experience, working with volunteers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, USA and Switzerland was insightful and I made many new friends. We would have movie nights, play games, cook and clean together. I really enjoyed the community living experience.