How is Covid -19 affecting your work?
Project Play has sadly had to suspend our service. Though we know how vital our service is to the families we support, we did not feel it was safe to continue providing play sessions for children whose families are at risk of catching the virus. The lack of sanitation facilities, access to healthcare and inability to self-isolate for people living in informal camps means that the whole population is left vulnerable. We felt it was not appropriate for our teams to carry on running play sessions, as there is no possible way to do this in a way which guarantees the safety of the community and our volunteers in these conditions. With the safety of our team in mind, all team members have returned home.
Two of our coordinators remain on the ground and we have welcomed one new coordinator, Clara, who is working remotely. Caia and Clara are focusing on advocacy work, building campaigns to raise awareness of the injustices and rights abuses that occur every day in northern France. Jessie, our Safeguarding and Child Protection Coordinator, is now working for both Project Play and Collective Aid. Her main priority is training teams who are still on the ground in child protection and how to look out for signs of children at risk. We are also working on implementing a monitoring system for children at risk and developing a referral system for safeguarding concerns, to be used by teams coming into contact with the community.
What does your current day-to-day look like?
Caia is currently working "from home" and Jessie is working 4 days a week for Collective Aid, with one day a week for a Project Play admin day where she works on our safeguarding initiatives and training. Rachel and Claire are also doing remote work in the UK, though with more of a focus on capacity building post-corona and reflecting on how we can continue to grow and improve our service.
How do you think it will affect the project long-term?
We hope Project Play will get off the ground bigger and stronger when we are able to return. We are using this time to strengthen the "back-end" of our charity, including our policies and procedures, our reporting systems, child protection referral systems, HR, curriculum and activity planning and impact measurement. Though we wish we could physically check-in on the children to make sure they are safe, we are trying to use this time as productively as we can and ensure that we can run the best possible service for them once this is all over.
We are somewhat concerned about the long-term economic impact of Covid-19 policy and the changes this may cause to the global economy. NGOs and the charity sector are often the first to be hit in times of economic crises. We hope to use this time to make sure we are sustainable, no matter the economic landscape post-corona, but it is hard to know what the future holds.