Wifi and phone charging for displaced people in northern France
According to the United Nations, internet access is a human right. For refugees, it is a lifeline, allowing them to keep in touch with their families and loved ones on the other side of the world. It is also essential as a source of news. Listening to music, watching the latest football or cricket match, or just checking Facebook is as important to displaced people as it is to anybody else.
The continuing refugee crisis in Northern France may not make daily headlines now that it’s ‘Jungle’ camp has gone, but for over a thousand refugees stranded at the French port cities of Calais and Dunkirk, life is still a daily struggle. With no centralized camp, individuals are scattered across the town, finding temporary shelter wherever they can: in forests, industrial parks, and beneath hedges.
We have been operating in Northern France since 2016. In our first year, we facilitated over 91,000 Wifi logins. In the summer of 2017, we returned to Calais in order to fulfill the need for Wifi, phone charging, and information provision. Since then, we have continued to provide Wi-Fi and phone charging facilities to an average of 800 homeless refugees a month. We drive up, turn on the Wifi and phone charging stations and people rush to the van where they can sit, charge their phone and call and message their friends, family and loved ones, sheltered from the weather in a comfortable, safer, environment. Living homeless as a refugee is fraught with anxiety, loneliness and danger. Making contact with parents, partners or children that have been left behind at home, or even stranded in transit countries can relieve this tension slightly. Every day we see the positive impact that our Wifi service has on the wellbeing of our service users.