Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs is one of the best-known theories of motivation. It is a pyramid that sets out the most basic needs at the bottom, which must be fulfilled before moving on to other more advanced needs. As a Youth Worker, this is something that you are taught to help you identify and support the needs of children you are working with. A few years ago, I came across a modified version of Maslow’s hierarchy – as a joke, someone had written ‘wi-fi’ at the base of the pyramid. I laughed because I think we can all relate to a dependence on the internet, wi-fi, and our electronic devices. However, in June of this year I came to Calais to start working with the Refugee Youth Service team, and I started to see just how important connectivity is.
Mental health is a huge concern amongst the young people I am supporting, and maintaining contact with their family and friends is a powerful way to help a young person keep going that little bit longer. I no longer find amusement in the joke version of Maslow’s hierarchy, because I see with my own eyes how important it is. I have been sat side by side with people when their top-up has come through, and have heard those cheers of joy and seen the smile on their face; I've seen the smiles when they are on the phone talking to their loved ones, or able to go on YouTube to listen to their favourite music, and I see their strength and resilience return. It is lovely to see them taking selfies and posing for photos that they send to friends and family, just like any teenager in this world would do. In these moments, it is easy to drop the label "refugee or migrant” and see them for who they really are - a normal teenager - and it brings me so much joy to see those moments.
As a child protection professional being able to maintain contact with these children is an essential part of my role which would certainly be a lot harder if it wasn't for the credit received from Phone Credit for Refugees. Thank you to all that donate to this group - without you these children would be in a much worse place mentally, emotionally and physically.
When you work with children, young people and vulnerable young people, the general rule around safeguarding is that it is everyone’s responsibility. Through Phone Credit for Refugees the donors are unknowingly playing their part in safeguarding and child protection, and for this I am eternally grateful.
Refugee Youth Service