Here are some of the ways you can volunteer your time, skills and ideas to help our network collect and distribute aid to refugees across France and beyond.
STORE: Act as a drop off point for local donations if you have storage space. Donations from each collection point are then transported to one of our larger hubs to be sorted and labelled for distribution to refugee camps across France and beyond.
DRIVE: This need not be all the way to the camps; you could be a link in the supply chain. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and state how far you are prepared to drive (e.g. From Toulouse to Bergerac, from La Rochelle to Angoulême), or offer to be a shuttle link between specific hubs.
ORGANISE LOCAL EVENTS: For instance, you could organise an Open Giving Day in your local salle des fêtes or host a Coffee With Donation Morning to collect donations (practical support and/or financial contributions). You could involve your local school, college or supermarket, or simply put up a poster at your boulangerie to let people know you’re collecting for refugees. We have a poster template here in French and here in English for you to download to help publicise your events. Why not share your ideas with members on our Facebook group to help inspire others?
TRANSLATE: If you are fluent in French, please let us know if you are willing to help – for example by helping us to contact French charities, or with liaising with refugee agencies on the ground. Likewise if you’re fluent in other languages such Arabic, Greek, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian, etc, then your help may prove invaluable in finding new distribution channels for our donations and ensuring our aid gets the the people who need it most. You can email us at email@example.com
HELP OTHER MEMBERS: Join our Facebook group, read the posts and help to act as our eyes and ears – often someone will ask a question you may already know the answer to. By sharing your knowledge, you can help save our volunteer admins a lot of time and allow them to concentrate on coordinating donations and expanding our network.
OFFER ACCOMMODATION: One night stays, couch surfing or refreshment stops for those driving to donation points are always welcome. France is a huge, and moving our donations across the country (and sometimes across international borders) is our largest logistical challenge.
HELP US FIND NEW PARTNERS: Use your own network – including similar groups on Facebook – to help us share information and stories. We are constantly looking for new partners with whom we can pool and share resources. For example, it’s not logistically possible for us to drive to Iraq, but we are working with a Paris-based organisation to move our donations to Paris for onward shipping to the Iraq/Syria border. This has been made possible thanks to the magic of social media and the resourcefulness of our members in finding like-minded organisations.
VOLUNTEER IN CAMPS IN FRANCE: There are a number of organisations working in Paris that need volunteers. Volunteers help with everything from sorting, packing and distributing aid to providing translation and paperwork support for refugees, medical assistance and much more. Most organisations will ask for a minimum of one-week’s commitment (ideally longer) to help make the most of your time and skills.
It’s very important to note that you SHOULD NOT arrive at a camp without having made arrangements with an organisation on the ground. These associations are working directly with refugees and are best placed to let you know how you can help.
For information on volunteering at the Porte de la Chapelle camp in Paris, contact Utopia56. You can sign up through their site. Please note a 10€ inscription fee is required for insurance purposes.
There is still a need for volunteers in Calais. For more information on volunteering in Calais, the excellent L’Auberge des Migrants is a good place to start. See also their Facebook group or call +33 (0)6 78 02 05 32.
For information on volunteering in the Dunkerque camp, contact SALAM. They have English- and French-speaking staff (Sylvie in Calais on +33 (0) 6 26 38 66 19 and Françoise in Dunkerque on +33 (0)6 45 36 47 49). You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on volunteering at other sites across France, please join the Facebook group and we will do our best to put you in touch with the relevant people.
VOLUNTEER IN CAMPS OUTSIDE FRANCE: The vast majority of refugees are being helped in countries other than France, and many of the humanitarian charities working in these countries need volunteers. Most of the organisations listed on this page as working in Greece, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and internationally are running projects on the ground in one or more countries. Contacting these organisations is a good first step if you’re wanting to volunteer your time outside of France.