FAQ

A friendly collective of UK & The Netherlands based health professionals & support staff coordinating shifts for personnel from healthcare background, across different locations on a short to long term volunteer basis. We are not an organization, but a group of volunteers, with aims similar to yours and thus unable to provide assistance with indemnity cover. You are professionally accountable for your actions/omissions and should always check with professional reps/legal advisers before leaving. Due to the legalities involved, most of the time we are unable to work in a medical capacity, in a foreign country, but because of our prior healthcare knowledge we have been successful in the following: helping refugees wound care advice and bandaging (most common), advice on use of over the counter medication, first aid care and assisting patients to access appropriate emergency healthcare while distributing general donations. We strongly believe in each individual’s right to being treated with dignity and respect and apply this basic human right in our day to day efforts in helping and assisting refugees around Europe, during these difficult times.
The 'Jungle' was demolished and most of refugees were dispersed in different CAOs throughout the France. Dunkirk Camp burnt down in April 17 and there are now no official camps in France at all. Refugees who returned to Calais or didn’t opt to go are forced to live rough in forests, bushes and hidden away squats. Some locals also host some refugee families. Though most of refugees are male but there is sizeable number of families. Age rage of 2yrs to 40yrs (rough avg age estimate in teens). French authorities remain hostile not only towards refugees but lately this harassment has started to include volunteers including random documents checks and irrelevant discussions/arguments, intimidating behaviour, disrupting food distribution. Though this is limited to intimidation only, refugees are frequently arrested. It is not uncommon to come across somebody stuck in the place for years and still retaining some hope for a better life. Most of refugees (who are unable to afford anything) are not even allowed to sleep in parking lots as allegedly smugglers claim to own parking lots making people more prominent for police brutality. We have been told that current smugglers rate crossing the channel is 10,000 British Pounds forcing individuals to hold a family member as ransom thus adding to the pressure and falling in hands of such people. People with either no alive family members or a large family travelling seems to be stuck in middle of nowhere. In Calais refugees tend to gather near old campsite to have evening meal, provided by charities (Authorities permitting) and Care4Calais has also been providing supplies in peripheries including Brussels from meals to all sort of necessities. Besides general volunteering in warehouse, we have been providing basic First Aid along with Care4Calais volunteers at different locations. When you apply to volunteers with us, we will share those locations. There is the La Pass clinic run by authorities for acutely unwell patients requiring community management during working hours where response from local A/E remains variable. Dentist services remain in dire needs with only one dentist per week. Most common complaints remain injuries from police brutality, common ailments, mostly requiring reassurances or first aid. UNLESS YOU ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE REGISTERED WITH FRENCH MEDICAL COUNCIL, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PRACTICE IN MEDICAL CAPACITY IN FRANCE. PLEASE RESPECT THIS AS IT MAY HAVE SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS, NOT ONLY FOR YOURSELF BUT ALSO FOR OTHERS.
Yes we do: Principle Commitments of the Code: - The humanitarian imperative comes first. - Aid is given regardless of the race, faith or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. - Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint. We remain apolitical. - We shall endeavor not to be used as a political instrument. - We shall respect culture, and custom. - We treat people with respect, and do not condone any form of violence and abuse. - In this group we are all considered equal. - We do not give legal advice or support. You can always refer to other organisations of course. - In our external communication we shall recognise refugees as dignified human beings, not objects. It is prohibited to publish pictures without prior consent. - Your team leader is always in charge and you will listen to her or his decisions. This can include leaving the site while you are helping people. This will be for your own and the refugees safety.
Equality and respect are key to the success of this group. Trolling will NOT be tolerated. Report anything, in the field or online, that you feel is inappropriate to the admin-team as soon as possible. We are A-political. We will allow related posts on Facebook, but they should be appropriate. There are lots of Facebook groups about refugees and politics, so please focus on the medical and social help in this group. Do NOT use any symbols from NGO's when you are on the ground. Such as a Red Cross, MSF or another logo. You can always write first aid on a piece of paper or use a vest from Care4calais. When you are in any of the warehouses (L'auberge/Utopia/Care4Calais) introduce yourself first and ALWAYS wear a (high-vis) vest
Hassan, Joram & Nynke. You can contact them at the 'Contact us' page. They try to be as much on the ground as possible, but please remember that they are also just volunteers and have a 'normal job' on the side.
Being a medic is not necessary as we need a range of different skills. Knowledge of first aid (wound cleaning) is however a basic requirement. We need all sets of skills on the ground and also quite a few members, who are unable to volunteer on ground, help us by giving advice over telephone for signposting patients to right department/eligible treatments available. We welcome requests from: Previous experience of working in Refugee camps (please elaborate on registration form). Nurses Paramedics First Aiders: Please be aware that a simple first-aid course is NOT enough. We therefore ask experienced First Aiders who practice a lot in their home country and in the field. Doctors (Please note that due to legislations one is usually NOT allowed to practice/prescribe unless appropriately registered & indemnified in respective country). We also require doctors, from different specialties, within the UK for advice from time to time. Pharmacists: For on the ground stock checking (Calais) and advice on the use of medications. Also for telephonic advice. Medical Students: Yes, but only when you have experience with First Aid and are allright to work alone (with advice from your teammembers (offline) and coordinators (online). We do not accept big groups of students. If you have any query or evidence based article/material which can be useful in improving care towards (e.g. wound management guidelines, teargas management etc), please send an email.
Online Registration form (see volunteer)
Safe basic/advanced first aid, essential care, emotional support and general assistance including tidy up. We need to be able to care for each other & other volunteers/their families. At the moment the situation is quite difficult in Calais, so we need your flexibility while you are working with us. This can also mean that it could be possible that there is no need for medics on a day you are there. Nevertheless, there is a big need for volunteers at the Care4Calais warehouse or during distribution so you will always be very useful!
After confirming the dates you will be volunteering, you will be added to a Facebookchat. If you sign up please be sure you have arranged accomodation and travelplans! You will also be introduced online to on the ground team members who will also meet you on your arrival at Calais. If you require any instruments or any other items, please contact promptly to check for availability/arrangements. The caravans that we had during our time at the ‘Jungle’ no longer operate as the police do not allow this operation. Therefore you will need a car to drive around to different locations. Most of the time you will operate in ‘the field’. We will provide safe paramedic bags with all the appropriate supplies needed. Please, if you take your own supplies, let us know in advance, as we have to check everything being used by our team members. Be aware, that if you use supplies or medicines which are not allowed you endanger not only yourself, but also your team members and the people you are helping. This may compromise our permits and those from organisations like Care4Calais and Utopia to help people.
You can easily drive to Calais. It is best to be based in the city center. You can stay for cheap at the youth center or check booking.com for hotels. Please be aware that you will need a car while working in Calais.
Routine prescribing is NOT permitted. If you have prescribing experience and indemnity cover, please let us know a week before so appropriate arrangements can be made. There have been incidents when people have just turned up and put us and their team in a difficult situation. We are very vigilant about governance so please inform us in advance.
As we are just volunteers and not part of any charitable organisation all bandages/Dettol/ betadine/strepsils/gaviscon, etc. have been donated by volunteers including those working in the 1st aid caravans during the ‘Jungle’. Any donations are first checked over by our qualified volunteer pharmacists before being used. WE DO NOT PROVIDE SECONDARY/LONG TERM CONDITIONS services however where possible we should assist/guide people with these conditions on how to access services provided by the French authorities. Do not provide medicine for longer than 5 days! The paramedic bags include everything you need, for example the following: - Woundcare - Diagnostic set - Bandages - Cold & flu sets - Medical instruments - Small variety of medicine, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, anti-histamine, etc. If you have any questions about the bags, please message the admin-team.
All donated 1st aid items are stored in a container. Ask the team leader or contact the admins through FB messenger for stock checking/requests. Please note due to limited space available, we keep a very limited stock. Any 1st aid donations must go to the team leader who will be responsible for storing the items for future use. Please ensure any supplies you bring are sorted into the relevant boxes. Please do NOT bring any medicines or supplies which are not in the list included on this website.
We encourage anyone volunteering with us to bring socks, hats, gloves and NEW underwear for dispensing as we passionately believe in tertiary prevention. Any 1st aid medical supplies need to be taken to the warehouse, sorted and stored by the team leader appropriately. You can bring these supplies: - Lemsip - Anti-histamines - Paracetamol - Antiseptic cream - Scabies cream - Athletes foot (spray is the best) - Fungal cream - Gaviscon or Rennies - Strepsils - Olbas oil - Ibuprofen gel - Disposable cups - Tissues - Socks - Hats (to Care4Calais) - Gloves (to Care4Calais) - NEW underwear (to Care4Calais) - Sleeping bags (to Care4Calais)
Please dispense Dettol or any liquids in disposable cups in small amounts to prevent reselling. If you are able to bring or ship disposable small cups to Calais, please do.
If a person doesn't have socks or has problems with their feet, please provide socks as appropriate. If you don’t have socks you can get them from the warehouse. The warehouse is running very low on items like socks, hats, gloves, sleeping bags and underwear too, so please bring them when you are coming.
Vicks and a tubifast with olbas oil bandage for sniffing works miracles together with strepsils. Ask the team leader for an example.
Please ring for ambulance or, if appropriate, take the patient to local casualty. PLEASE NOTE ANYBODY CAN ACCESS TO ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY TREATMENT for acute presentations. You may have to be very patient in getting heard but ultimately patient does get seen, in our experience.
Medicin du Monde (Doctors of the World) looks after patients with chronic conditions. Please ask your team leader or one of the admins for advice.
Absolutely! Cross infection and sterilization protocols must be followed to the best of your ability when treating the refugees. It will be the responsibility of the person providing the treatment to ensure its being done correctly. Please ALWAYS use gloves & alcohol gels for every patient contact.
Calais is safe, but there are a few nuisances to be aware of: You are very likely to be stopped and asked for documents by police. Keep your documents safe all the times and show them when the police asks for it. If asked by police to stop distribution, please comply and listen to their instructions. At no cost please prescribe or dispense prescribed medication. If you find any donations of prescribed medications being donated, please immediately report to team leader who will destroy/remove appropriately. Never go out alone without the help of an organization with permission. The admins and team leader will brief you in this before your first shift starts. If you go out alone, you will risk being arrested and also will endanger the refugees you are helping.
We can't help volunteers with accomodation, but here are some tips: The local youth hostel (Centre Européen De Séjour: Auberge De Jeunesse) offers our volunteers a discount, bringing it to €17 per person per night - though this only applies if you are staying more than three nights (usual rates apply before then, see their website for rates). There are various cheap hotels in the area. It's easiest to check out www.booking.com for this.
Every day in Calais with FAST is different, but we can give you a little insight in a 'normal' day. 09.30-10.30, go to the medical container and restock your bags + car. After that we decide together (with admins, teamlead and YOU) if it's best to work in Dunkirk or Calais for the day. We try to do Calais one day and Dunkirk to next, so both have access to first aid. We work untill 18.00 or 18.30 o clock. In between you will have time to get some lunch, coffee or to rest a bit. Sometimes it's even needed to restock your bags during the day. We provide first aid and a team is made of members like you from different medical backgrounds. Your team will be lead by a volunteer usually with previous experience or knowledge of Calais/Dunkirk volunteering. We will let you know in the groupchat who the teamleader is.
Yes, we really need long-term volunteers, but even for a day you can do some much work and you are very welcome!
We always need volunteers. You can check out the rota and see when there are still gaps. If you cant find the rota or you don't understand, feel free to send us a message.
It would be perfect if you can bring some things from the needed-list. If you can't bring any first aid supplies, please consider to bring over socks, gloves, hats, etc. For yourself: - Passport - Waterproof shoes, clothes - Car + drivers license - Loose clothing
We will send you more info about locations in the groupchat. Please check your Facebookchat and send the admins a message if you haven't been added to the chat.
You can take pictures, but always ask permission and do not take pictures of children. It can be very powerful in raising awareness of the conditions and people in the camp to take pictures and to post them. HOWEVER – please ensure you get permission to take any pictures you might ever make public. People deserve the respect of being given the choice and having that choice respected. Please also remember that public evidence of an individual having been in Calais can have a devastating impact on a future asylum claim in any other country!
We do not provide lunch. Sometimes you are lucky and the Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK) will have some amazing food left, but otherwise you can just go to a supermarket and get some lunch.
Our medical container is based in Calais, but we work in both Calais and Dunkirk. Therefore it's needed to bring a car when you are coming over.
You can find a lot about all organisations and groups in Calais on: http://www.calaidipedia.co.uk/
After the demolition of the Jungle we no longer work in caravans or a medical unit. We work from the back of our cars and drive around in Calais and Dunkirk to see different distribution points.
FAST is responding to an emergency and providing first aid to those in need. Offering people conditions that meet basic humanitarian standards has no effect on their decision to leave their homes, it just reduces their suffering. The appalling conditions in Calais and Dunkirk are already having significant negative impact on people’s health and not responding is not an option according to FAST.
If you are working in Calais and Dunkirk these are the sort of injuries you will see: Common cold Wounds by police violence or falling. Scabies Chest infection Sprains/strains Lacerations Skin ulcers lower limb Dental problems Burns Chronic pain issues Eye issues/infections Fungal toe infections Trench foot Allergies/hay fever Requests for prescription meds Gastric reflux Diarrhea Sleeping problems Urinary tract infections Anxiety/depression