Art Therapy for displaced children & families due to trafficking, political conflict and poverty ~ ART REFUGE UK CONTINUES TO WORK WITH Doctors of the World UK / Médecins du Monde France  AND Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in THE REFUGEE CAMPs IN CALAIS AND DUNKIRK.


Between March and July 2015, Jess was based in Kathmandu, Nepal, with fellow art therapist Naomi Press, supporting Art Refuge UK.

Art Refuge UK is a unique charity whose expertise in visual art and art therapy supports people of all ages who have been displaced due to trafficking, political conflict and poverty. Now back in the UK, Jess continues to support Art Refuge UK within their collaboration in France.

Art Refuge UK is working with Medecins du Monde and Medecins Sans Frontieres, in response to the severe and diverse psychosocial needs of the refugees living in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk, northern France, just the other side of the English Channel from Dover. 

Since 2006, Art Refuge UK has specialised in working with displaced people in India, Nepal and the UK, and is uniquely well placed to respond to the complex needs of people in the camps in France. The team of registered art therapists bring knowledge and experience of working with refugees in countries across the world and other displaced individuals, such as the immediate work Jess was able to take on with communities in Nepal after the devastating earthquakes in April and May 2015.

Art therapy within the camp

Throughout August, Art Refuge UK art therapist Naomi Press approached Medecins du Monde to offer her support in Calais. With the support of their psychology team, an art therapy space in their new psychosocial support tent was established.

Art Refuge UK’s art therapy space was rapidly full to capacity with men and teenagers in particular seeking out a safe space within which to sit alone and with others, engage in art-making and begin to process some of their experiences. The specialist space and skills within the team sensitively support individuals’ verbal and non-verbal communications, and recognise and respond appropriately to signs of trauma and other mental health issues, and to bear witness through their images, to people’s traumatic stories and testimonies.

The art-making space has encouraged connections to be fostered between people, and human experience to be shared across different languages and cultures. Over this short time such a space has already allowed a number of children and adults to start to recover some sense of meaning, agency, hope in an otherwise often helpless situation, and we have even witnessed small moments of joy (such as their kite making and flying over the art therapy tent!). 

Psychosocial support emphasises the importance for an individual’s well-being of connections with other individuals, groups and communities, particularly the interaction between people; and it focuses on ways in which individuals and communities can become stronger and more resilient. As the extremity of the situation continues to increase, the desperate need for specialist psychosocial support has been identified by Medecins du Monde and Medecins San Frontieres  - who continue to be some of the only international organisations operating formally in the camp and making this important work mandatory, where others don't





Contact Jess WITH any questions or discuss how you would like to support and be involved.