A year of Utopia 56 on the ground
The increasing blow of solidarity around refugees : the history of Utopia 56
Just a year ago (January 15), Utopia 56 mentored its first team of volunteers in the jungle of Calais. Today, the association has 4,000 members.
In autumn 2015, Yann and his son Gael Manzi, from Brittany, discover the jungle of Calais. They return to Brittany and alert their friends. A small group of friends in Lorient and Quimper, founded together Utopia 56. On January 15, 2016, a first apartment is rented in Calais to host volunteers. This weekend, two first Utopia teams are working in the shantytown. They help for showers. They build shelters, distribute tents, collect waste. We were 30 members.
Calling for volunteering, mentoring and offering accommodation respond to a need in France. The proof : we are 4,000 today.
Grande-Synthe, Calais, Paris …
In March, in agreement with MSF (Médecins sans frontières – Doctors without borders), the mayor of Grande-Synthe, Damien Carême, entrusted the management of the first humanitarian camp in France (1,500 refugees) to Utopia 56. Our young voluntary association manages the camp of its opening on March 7. Until its recognition by the State. An incredible adventure.
At the same time in 2016, Utopia 56 continues to work in the jungle of Calais (10,000 refugees), supervising 6,000 volunteer days. Since November 2016, Utopia 56 intervenes in the new Humanitarian Center of the Chapel, in Paris, managed by Emmaus Solidarity, in queue management, distribution of clothing, accompaniment of minors. A Utopia 56 apartment has just been opened to house long-term volunteers.
Unaccompanied minors, street refugees, CAOs, information to refugees, citizen accommodation…
In Paris, volunteers from Utopia 56 also work in the street, in the distribution of blankets. Every night, they put teenage refugees in the hôtel. They are sleeping on the street and do not fit into official schemes for various reasons. These are mainly first-timers, who do not speak a word of english. Come and help us !
In Calais, Utopia 56 volunteers continue to help the refugees who remained, including marauders and help at l’Auberge des Migrants/Help Refugees. It is still possible to register with Utopia 56 and be hosted for 5 or 10 euros a night.
Utopia 56 groups have been created in Lille, Lyon, Aix, Rennes, Saint-Brieuc, Brest, Lorient, Tours. They deal with isolated minors, manage emergency situations for vulnerable refugees, organize collections and provide information to refugees.
In Saint-Brieuc, in Tours, in the North, in the Rhône-Alpes, in the Paca region, volunteers also work in some of the 300 CAO (welcome and orientation centers) opened in France. Utopia 56 supports, with the Auberge des Migrants, the CAO Info platform that allows 5,000 citizens involved in CAO to communicate with each other. Utopia 56 is currently developing accommodation and accompaniment for isolated minors, information for refugees. We also have projects in citizen housing. We are already 4,000 and we will do even more in 2017.