Roots is a French association working in Grande Synthe, an area of northern France close to Dunkirk, providing services to people living in the informal camps here. We aim to provide environmentally conscious and sustainable humanitarian aid, particularly focussing on the environment surrounding the living site. We believe in access to basic human rights for everybody, no matter where you are from or what your visa situation is, and we will continue to do this until these fundamental human rights are met.
Everything we do has our core values in mind: reliable daily services and making sure fundamental rights are covered, such as WASH, and Digital Inclusion. We are now part of the camp's communities, thanks to our social hub we can interact and connect with all the different communities in camp. We stand side by side with the people on the move.
Roots began as a one person side project, our founder repurposed old batteries to make power-banks for displaced people. Power-banks were given to partner organisations who then distributed in the field. This was an environmental and financially conscious decision - organisations were paying on average £10 per Power-bank, and Roots could build them for £2.50 from fully recycled batteries.
With more free time in 2019, our founder and a small team expanded into litter picking and a waste management programme which has grown and become one of our biggest and most important projects to date.
During the pandemic most organisations operating in Dunkirk had to close. Fortunately, Roots was able to continue and even expanded operations by running services that other organisations usually provided, such as phone charging and Wi-Fi. In addition to this Roots introduced two cold water showers into the camp and maintenance of the state provided water point, including the provision of soap and toiletries, as well as regular disinfection of contact points such as taps.
Late in 2020 Roots rented a space in an old monastery close to the Belgian border, with more space and facilities we were able to expand our projects. Here, our first round of charging tables were built and we began our Hot Shower Project.
In November of 2021 the French state stopped giving reliable water access to people in camp. Since then there has been no state provided water point, Roots began our Water project soon after.
With the development of our projects we moved to a larger space to accommodate our needs. Building showers, charging tables, and storing everything we need for our WASH, Digital Inclusion and Environmental Security projects requires a lot of space! We were lucky enough to move into a wonderful space that includes accommodation. From here we expanded our on the ground team and developed our main projects. Unfortunately, to keep our focus on services in the camps, we have had to pause the Electronics Workshop Project, however we hope to have it up and running again soon!
Early in the year we moved warehouses (again!) this time only a few doors down to a more suitable location on the same compound, we have much more space where we can work on restarting our warehouse projects! This year we aim to continue with our ever-evolving services, to reopen our Electronics Workshop and to support as many displaced people as we can.
To make sure that everyone has access to drinking water within a safe walking distance from their home.
To force the French State to recognise that the lack of access to water is a violation of basic human rights.
For the French State to provide adequate basic services for displaced people living in Grande Synthe.
Without our amazing volunteers, Roots wouldn’t exist. To maintain our connection with our team we created 'Roots Family', but the family extends past our volunteers, we also welcome supporters, donors and people who are interested in the work we do to join out family. We have a dedicated Facebook page, and a WhatsApp group.
In our groups we share updates about Roots and our projects, we ask for help in completing tasks, and of course we share lots of pet photos! Join our family and join the amazing work our volunteers do!
Our coordinators are a group of experienced and qualified individuals with skills and knowledge ranging from basic electronics and WASH, to humanitarian studies and Social Welfare. They are dedicated to ensuring that the services we deliver at the camp are dignified and sustainable. Between them, they are at the camp every day to ensure that volunteers are comfortable, and the displaced individuals have a familiar face to approach with questions.
Roots has a diverse board of trustees, who are responsible for the overall control and strategic direction of our organization. We meet regularly to discuss, review and decide our strategies and policies and receive updates from our senior leadership team. Our trustees work for Roots on a voluntary basis to ensure we deliver our ambition to strengthen communities by delivering an excelle service.
Roots is entirely volunteer run! Everything we do is only possible because so many amazing individuals have chosen to dedicate their time to Roots to help displaced people. In 2022 alone we welcomed over 140 volunteers, and each and every one of them have been an amazing addition to the team. Each volunteer comes with their own unique skill set and talents and we aim to utilise each person to the maximise their input based on their abilities. We learn together and we grow together. Thank you to every single of one of you!