Lake Aid meeting invitation

Lake Aid will be holding the next meeting Monday 27 March and we would like to invite anyone interested in getting involved to come along.

Our agenda includes becoming an association and how we might organise ourselves; baby boxes; a round-up of how homework club has been going over winter; and, the possibility of offering homework club more broadly.

Our meetings are friendly, informal and productive. Whether you want to offer some regular time or simply a one-off idea (or anything else), please consider coming on Monday night.

The meeting will be held at 8.30pm. Please get in touch via the contact form for the address.

A day on top of the world in the snow

Lake Aid was recently contacted by Gemma at New Generation Ski & Snowboard in Courchevel to organise a snowy day out for the kids currently residing at the shelters in Annecy. Gemma worked with Lake Aid, Secours Populaire 74 and the Red Cross to make the day happen. Here’s a report from Lake Aider, Tristan:

Courchevel is a top resort in one of the top ski domains in the world, the Three Valleys. Only the best for the 43 kids we took there from Annecy on 11th March! We spent the morning just up the hill from Courchevel village in Le Praz, at the base of the Olympic ski jump, where we enjoyed skiing, sledging, snowman building and a treasure hunt. The skiing was super popular, and we even witnessed some convincing parallel turns despite using cross-country equipment!

We descended to the shores of the small but beautifully framed lake in Bozel for the afternoon, starting with a much-needed meal. Kids were given a choice of activities including climbing, abseiling, a zip line, slack lining, face painting, craft activities, crazy races, and a bit of football — before the ball went in the lake then got eaten by the dog sent to rescue it! The day was a great success from start to finish. We could simply not have had better weather conditions, and we took full advantage.

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Lake Aid would like to thank Gemma and her colleagues at New Generation Ski and Snowboard who  organised all the activities and refreshments, all the volunteers, the Red Cross, and Secours Populaire who supplied winter clothing, insurance and volunteers.

Wednesday kids’ activities

We wrote previously about Homework Club, which runs most of nights of the week at the moment. Well, Wednesdays isn’t about homework. It’s much more fun! Here’s the report from Felicity:

 

Some Lake Aiders and I had a really lovely time last Wednesday doing puzzles, colouring and reading stories. The kids enjoyed it too. There were around 15 children aged 3-9 of various nationalities including African, Kosovar and Bosnian. Some parents with babies and toddlers sat nearby and chatted with us. The atmosphere was very friendly and the kids were really happy to play! We noticed the girls were more into our craft activities than the boys, so if anyone has any mechano/lego/construction toys to donate, we suspect that might be more popular with the boys. Any other toy donations which might pique their interest are welcome, of course!

Felicity and other Lake Aiders will be going again on Wednesdays as regularly as possible, and this might be a nice, informal way for anyone interested in helping to get to see what Lake Aid is all about without the formality of helping with homework. Feel free to get in touch!

Homework Club reopens

Providing educational support to school-aged children remains one of Lake Aid’s primary goals. During the 2015/2016 school year, Lake Aid volunteers started ‘Homework Club’, where children from asylum-seeking and homeless families were given help with their school work. Homework Club was put on hold during autumn when evicted families were scattered and Lake Aid focussed on working with other local associations to help keep them sheltered.

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starryeyedWith the winter shelter now open and families safe and warm, Lake Aid has restarted Homework Club. The local Red Cross has kindly agreed to provide a room at their centre on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm to 8pm for homework help, plus a space for recreational activities (such as painting and reading) on Wednesdays from 3pm to 5pm.

Around 70 kids are residing at the centre, and we are seeking volunteers in the Annecy area. Help is needed with reading, writing, playing educational games, encouraging, listening and simply befriending. Everyone is welcome, whether French- or English-speaking, and regardless of teaching experience.

Even if you only have one evening a fortnight available, please get in touch, or join the Facebook group to learn more about our community. The Facebook group also provides regular updates about Homework Club and other Lake Aid activities, so we encourage you to join if you’re interested in keeping up to date.

Freezing weather appeal

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Temperatures are plummeting this weekend in Annecy, and around 150 people are expected to stay at the shelters in Annecy this weekend.

Everyone’s generous donations to date have helped keep many kids and adults warm, but warm clothes and shoes for all ages are still needed urgently.

Anyone in the local area can take items directly Centre Georges Bonnet at 1 Route de la Petite Jeanne (at the base of the Semnoz). Thanks in advance for your kindness.

Christmas party!

On 22 December, Lake Aid partnered with Secours Populaire France 74, La Ligue Des Droits Des Hommes, and Le Collectif Urgence Roms 74 to provide a Christmas party for homeless children. Lake Aid provided all the logistical arrangements, involving five coaches and a team of volunteers, more than a hundred gifts, entertainment including a clown and an elf, craft activities, a play area for younger kids, and a photo booth complete with Santa Claus himself! More than twenty Lake Aiders were there on the day, preparing in the morning and being present all afternoon during the event, and many more donated money and gifts. This event was loads of fun for our guests, with both parents and children thrilled with the activities, and very rewarding for everyone involved. We look forward to making it even better next year — this time with the benefit of experience!

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Autumn update

After a few months of challenges, we write with good news.

But first, some updates. The refugee families in Annecy were evicted again in October, around a month before the winter shelters were due to open. Some were given temporary shelter and some were not. Kind residents took in families who had nowhere to live, and kind people donated to Lake Aid and other local charities, who helped cover housing costs. More refugees arrived from Calais and are being sheltered in a dedicated place. The Annecy arm of the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme are collecting winter clothing for men if anyone would like to donate.

The winter shelters are now slowly taking in existing refugee families, and the Red Cross and other charities are collecting blankets and clothes. Lake Aid members have been delivering goods to both groups of refugees and will continue to do so. Currently, the shelter is requesting that only blankets and warm clothes are donated (pillows and toys/books are not yet required, but might be soon — watch this space).

More good news: After running a successful homework club for the children at the refugee’s old shelter, Lake Aid was keen to restart it after the summer holidays. We’ve been working with the Red Cross to allocate a suitable space. Homework Club is important to Lake Aid because our primary goal is to help refugee children in and around Annecy. Once we have confirmed details, we’ll provide more information here.

For now, the most urgent need is keeping everyone warm. If you are nearby and have blankets or winter clothes to give, you can get in touch with us via this blog or take them directly to Croix Rouge Annecy or to the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme in Annecy. If you’re not nearby, you can donate money to those charities or via the Lake Aid Pot Commune.