Copyright : Mehdi Chebil
Copyright : Mehdi Chebil

The return of warm weather is an opportunity for migrants and refugees to take part in leisure activities that are not available the rest of the year. Infomigrants looks at some interesting initiatives in France.

During summer, many charities and associations either close down or reduce their programs. However, there are other leisure activities that refugees can take part in. Here are some interesting initiatives.

National holiday ball

July 14, a Bank Holiday, is one of the most popular festivals in France. Everywhere in Paris, the traditional July 14 balls attract the crowds. The association BAAM (the office for welcoming and accompanying migrants) wants to share the occasion with refugees by organizing a “ball of migrants” the evening before on July 13. For the second consecutive year, the festivities are scheduled to take place on the Place de Stalingrad in the 19th district, starting at 7 pm.

Sports activities

Another festive moment is organized by the 'Melting Passes', an organization that advances the integration of young minors that are isolated from sports activities. On Saturday, July 8, 'Melting Passes' is celebrating a year of football tournaments at the Grands Voisins in the 14th district of Paris. 

In the same spirit, the international sporting charity Sportis (Sport International solidaire) organizes football training for refugees from the Centre du Chapelle every Friday at the Les Fillettes stadium in the 18th district of Paris. “As the stadium is closing this summer, we are organizing training sessions in the center itself,” says Xavier Serry, the president of Sportis.

In partnership with Comité de Paris FSGT, Sportis is also managing the project Paris-SPORT-refugees. “Our aim is to enable refugees to practice a sport, that's why we hope, through this project, to encourage sports clubs to open their doors,” says Serry. For instance, badminton sessions are being organized in the 10th district by CPS 10 (a sports club in the 10th district). Training continues in July but is suspended in August. Meanwhile, the Sand System club in the 20th district is making volley ball available to everybody throughout the summer.

For information regarding timetables, send an email to info@spot-is.org

Going on holiday

Associations such as Secours catholique (a catholic charity) and Secours populaire have long offered disadvantaged people the possibility to go on holiday or escape their daily routine for a day. “These programmes are open to everybody and obviously to refugees, whatever their status,” says Marc Castille, responsible for external relations at Secours populaire. 

185,840 people went on holiday with Secours populaire in 2016, including refugees. The duration and the nature of the stays vary. Inscriptions for the longer summer trips were finalized in January, but it is still possible to register for day trips called 'Holidays for the Forgotten Ones', taking place after August 15. For instance, there is a trip for young people to Deauville on August 23.

Each regional branch proposes its own programmes so it is necessary to contact local committees for information.

“We consider that access to leisure is a fundamental right and that it's necessary for migrants, especially minors, to discover their host country,” explains Castille. Secours populaire is looking into the possibility of opening some of their 'Friends of the World villages' - holiday centres for young people - to migrant minors staying in shelters.