12/03/2017 15:23 GMT | Updated 11/03/2018 05:12 GMT

How Volunteering With Help Refugees UK Helped Relieve My Depression And Made My World Bigger

Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

Ok, firstly I'm sorry for yet another post with 'depression' in the title but hear me out.

A majority of people will have experiences somewhere along the spectrum of depression at some point or another. Well, actually, according to mental health charity 'Mind' 1 in 4 people will experience some aspect of mental health this year.

Statistics like this are shocking but are hardly surprising. We're still suffering post Brexit blues, Trump trauma and the destruction of humanity through the likes of Sean Hannity. It's far too easy to feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness during this weird time of disconnect.

It's hard to see any positivity in the current political, social and economic climate, but there is. I've seen it, and have been a part of it. It's highly refreshing, reassuring and liberating.

In 2016 I experienced a lot of change and found myself fumbling from one job to another; signing the dotted line on yet another zero hour contract. I wanted remain but lost and my mind became hazy. I felt detached until it suddenly occurred to me that what I really wanted to do was something fulfilling, constructive and meaningful. After watching the latest Adam Curtis film 'Hypernormalisation' I also felt a healthy need to escape the bubble of me; something to do with algorithms...

I decided to break away to Calais for a weekend and volunteer with Help Refugees. This weekend quickly turned into three months and has been one of the best decisions I've made; they're usually few and far between. I suddenly found myself propelled into this community of diverse people all with the same desire of wanting to help their fellow human. Not wanting to sit back and watch the world fall apart into chaos but actively seeking and creating positive change.

During this time I regularly made visits into the Dunkirk camp to help distribute aid and assess individual needs. It was here I witnessed what it truly meant to be restricted, confined and detached, both physically and mentally. On one occasion a fellow volunteer and I assessed the needs of one shelter with fourteen men living inside. The shelter itself was merely 2.5 meters squared with four of the men (two in their early 20's) sleeping in the front porch with just a blanket barely covering the doorway and separating them from the elements. This was in February. But still, there were smiles and laughter.

This was extremely humbling. Most people in camp are full of positivity yet they've already made huge sacrifices to get this far. Sacrifices that are almost impossible to comprehend. Sacrifices no one would choose unless desperate.

Through my time with Help Refugees I began to break free from the cage of self-doubt and helplessness. I became a part of something a lot bigger, bold and beautiful. All worries and fears became meaningless. I am extremely lucky. A short experience with an everlasting effect that will now follow me in everything I do. Small ripples of activism can create waves of change.


63, Dunkirk Refugee Camp

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