The minors Centre near Calais houses around 70 child refugees, some of whom are claiming asylum in France, some who are applying to come to the UK, and some who are simply having a few days respite from their lives on the street. Although this place is run by the French state, resources are limited and they will ask us for certain things for the children that they are short of. Just as we do, they have plenty of things for young children and girls but really struggle with 13/15-year-old boys. Every time we go we hunt through our warehouse to try to find shoes, underwear, coats and trousers that will fit 13/15-year-old very skinny boys. If we can find tiny skinny fit jeans or size 39/40 trainers it is a triumph!
The children originate from a wide range of countries, and there is a mixture of English and French speakers so we undertake activities with them that don’t require too much language. Board games, cards, arts and crafts provide some much needed social interaction and allow the young people living here to engage with our volunteers in a fun and relaxed way. The Centre itself provides some sporting activities and language classes so any volunteers with particular interest and skills in these areas are able to contribute in that way as well.