Shelley is a regular volunteer at the Women's Centre she often makes trips from the UK to provide very practical and caring support not only to the women on camp but also to the volunteers. She has been an amazing asset on camp, here are her impressions of her time and voicing her concerns:
Arriving at la Linière last November with a band of young women full of energy and creativity, to volunteer with the residents of the camp I didn't expect to meet or work with so many resilient and strong women from all over the world. The Women's Centre is unique on the camp in its function to provide a haven for women of all ages and their children. Yes it operates a free shop for essential items, yes we have a learning space supported by the Adult Learning Centre, yes we run activities every day for both women and children (especially at weekends as the children centre is closed) but it also provides an essential outreach service to all vulnerable residents and also tries to find innovative ways to fix things, working with all groups and associations present in the camp. The recovery from the devastation of the fire to the joyful, colourful place it has become is witness to this.
One example of this work is the approach taken by the Women's Centre Volunteers in making the toilets safe and private. Womens toilets with no locks and holes punched in the doors was accepted as status quo when I first volunteered in November, despite raising the issue with camp management, nothing had changed when I was back in January. The fire and rebuild took energy and again there was no action from camp management. However, when I returned in March, Women's Centre plans were afoot to fix the locks and doors themselves. Lots of innovation, the skills of Elizabeth from l'auberge and borrowed equipment from the woodshed (Kesha Niya), the purchase of hardware and screws led to many locks being repaired. Meanwhile, volunteers started taping up and repairing holes. How long the repairs last has yet to be seen, but at least for a while women and children on the camp can use toilets with relative safety!