Help us help children in the Dunkirk Refugee Camp

  • 29 Nov 2016
  • Reading time 6 mins
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A report by Jade Holford from the Dunkirk Refugee CAMP


These boots were made for playing but the sad truth is the children in the Dunkirk Refugee Camp, where I volunteered, are wearing sandals in the mud. 

My job, and other volunteers, is to give them love, play games, make them smile and be there for them when they need to release their tears and anger and try as hard as we can to make their awful situation a bit more bearable.   

The truth is their future is unknown. Even orphaned children over 12 cannot get asylum in the UK from many war torn countries. Many families are crammed each night into hideaways in trucks, sometimes refrigerated containers, to try to get into England. Most return to the camp exhausted, only to try again. Sometimes this is just to reunite with family members in the UK but there is no other safe way.  We can’t solve that right now but we can help make their present more bearable.

Watching the toll their hard life has had on them was hard to see, but every day you can make a real difference. Please read their stories below, and how you can help them. 

Donate and we'll match your donation with Get Up and Go for the children

Right now the Dunkirk Refugee Camp needs money and volunteers. The kids also need nourishing food. One of the best ways to do this is to give each child a Get Up & Go smoothie, with all essential vitamins and minerals, protein, slow carbs, fibre and essential fats from seeds. So for every £10 you donate to the charity, my father, Patrick Holford, will give 10 children a serving of Get Up & Go (£2 of your donation will go to part fund this, £8 will go direct to the charity).

There are, at any point in time, about 150 kids in the camp. If 500 people give £10 that means every child will be optimally nourished every day for a month, and the charity will have £4,000 for their essential work. Will you be one of them? Consider it your Christmas present to a child in need. The present is all they have. We’d like to build their resilience for whatever the future might bring. Please help. DONATE NOW.

PS We don’t have money for clever programming so, when you’ve made your donation tell us in a comment on our Patrick Holford Facebook page so we can match your donation with some Get Up & Go for the kids.

And if you, or anyone you know has experience in teaching or childcare and you're able to volunteer please contact the centre via their Facebook page below. Also, please share this blog with as many people as you can.

Further details on the Dunkirk refugee Camp, and how you can help, are at and

Stories from the Dunkirk Refugee Children's Centre

During the first hour volunteering at the Dunkirk Refugee Children’s Centre I was actually quite surprised. Travelling thousands of miles has made these children incredibly independent and resilient.

The children’s centre adopts the ethos that all early years practitioners will tell you is essential for development: PLAY. So, in the morning children came and went as they pleased, playing farm animals, reading stories and drawing. The children felt like normal children at home. However the realities quickly came to light. 

One child, a gorgeous four year old boy, clean face ready to do some Duplo building, smiled at me as I passed him a green block, the one he was looking for. As he smiled I noticed the lasting scars from his past year of travelling. He had lost loads of his teeth and the ones that remained were black and rotten. A volunteer later told me that when crossing deserts, parents had no option but to feed their children sugar water to keep them alive. Not all the children had lost their teeth but it was a noticeable issue for quite a few.   

Another child around 9 years old, seemed very unsettled. He was jumping in between activities, trying to get the adults’ attention but when he did he would move to the next adult and he often had little tantrums. It’s easy when you arrive to think he’s just a naughty kid, and then when you watch him you realise he isn’t naughty, he’s traumatised. He drew a picture of his home, with his mum and dad cooking him a delicious dinner. He looked up and said in German it was delicious. Then he drew a black circle, the circle got bigger and bigger until it destroyed his home. A bomb. His whole life as he knew it gone. 

There are some children who seemed happy, and calm - a little three year old girl with perfect wringlets. She never caused trouble and was there from the beginning until the end of the day, concentrating on arts and crafts or games. However, after three days of what felt like some hope, not all of these children will have lost the effects of their traumatic experiences. The reality hit home. She suddenly started crying - no three year old should cry like that. It wasn’t a tantrum cry, it was sadness. I cuddled her really tight, she wriggled her head into my shoulder and cried for half an hour. We tried bubbles, music, her friends. In the end I realised I couldn’t coax her out of it, she just need to cry, so while I played some music in the back ground I sat there rocking her and trying not to cry myself.   

It was not all tears and tantrums, the children’s centre is a haven. Through the power of play and lots of loving volunteers, the children are able to have a good day in a safe environment and express any happy or sad emotions that may fill them that day.  And every morning they are waiting outside the children’s centre ready for it to open, calling out ‘Good morning my friend’. 

Can you spare £10 to donate? Click here to make your donation. Remember, for every £10 you donate to the charity, my father, Patrick Holford, will give 10 children a serving of Get Up & Go. Just please let us know how much you've donated on the Patrick Holford Facebook page so we can match your donation with some Get Up and Go.