Beginning February 2016, Maria Skobtsova Catholic Worker House opened in Calais.
It started as a house for volunteers who worked amongst the refugees in the jungle of Calais. The house is a private initiative, people living with brother Johannes at the house.
When we started working in Calais in October 2015, between 4000-5000 refugees were living in ‘the Jungle’ camp, at the end of the camp almost 10.000 refugees were living there.
In 2016 more than 70 volunteers passed through our house helping refugees in the jungle of Calais. Some stayed for one or two days, others for 5 to 6 months. In the past volunteers from Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches joined our house.
Emergency accommodation was given to the most vulnerable from the refugees in the jungle. Many of the refugees that came through the house decided to stay and ask asylum in France. Others moved through family reunification to the U.K.. Long term guest in the house came from the local hospital and needed time to recover.
From this work grew our Hospital Volunteer Team (under the umbrella of Caritas) who several times a week visited and aided refugees in the local hospital of Calais or Lille.
The house has always been and still is an informal meeting place and a community for people from Calais with a heart for refugees, volunteers, people with a learning disability from L’Arche, people from the parishes and refugees.