Creating a Digital Community Radio Station in an informal Refugee Camp in Calais, France
On the 24th October 2016, French Authorities began the final eviction phase of the camp in Calais. Many refugees have now been placed in CAO centres across France and are currently waiting on assessment of their asylum claims. New camps have sprung up along the Northern French coastline, some refugees continue to live around Calais in forest and wasteland areas. A process has been started for unaccompanied minors to travel to the UK under the Dubs Amendment for the 1200 children that lived in the camp alone. As of the February 28, 2017, the British government has halted a right of passage through the Dubs Amendment for unaccompanied minors who are still currently in Calais.
We will continue to provide support and training in community radio for refugees, individuals, and communities with an interest in learning how to participate and will continue to support those who decide to further their community radio training in the Calais region and beyond. This means that we will be adapting our training programmes to suit people who are going through a transitory phase whilst applying for asylum in Europe. We are broadening our geographical area of work, and we are also refining how we provide support for those who want to work and create content within the community radio sector. We now see this project developing as a global collaborative initiative involving a wide network of diverse people that can be utilised by facilitators, content creators, and listeners.
Kathy O' Hare & Ciaran Henry co-founded the Jungala Project in November 2015.
Jungala Radio is a digital community led radio station based in an informal refugee camp in Calais. The legitimacy and status of this camp is determined by the French government's adaptation of the Dublin Regulation (2003) which stipulates that refugees must claim asylum in their first country of arrival. Under this regulation, the French Government does not recognize the camp as a formal refugee camp. With Jungala Radio, we provide training for refugees in digital community broadcasting. Our training focuses on communication skills, story and content development, interview techniques, presentation and editing, and post-production skills. The project aims to help Jungala Radio participants grow and develop to a level where they can control, facilitate and operate the management of a digital community radio station. Through the Jungala radio station, camp residents become the narrators of their own political realities and offer an alternative representation to that which is being depicted in mainstream media. We stream our digital content using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, YouTube, and our website, Jungala Radio.
To develop a digital community radio station in the informal refugee camp in Calais, northern France.
Objectives of Jungala Radio
- To develop a digital platform using open source, digital and social media tools.
- To create a community that would engage and commit to digital upskilling.
- To establish a space that allows participants to challenge dominant narratives presented by mainstream media.
- To provide a safe learning space in the Calais camp where cross cultural learning and multilingualism is encouraged and incorporated into the culture of the Jungala project.
- To explore the role of the PAR (Participatory Action Research) as a Methodology).
Why we needed it
Mainstream media frames migration into Europe with charity, sympathy, and criminality narratives. The aim of the Jungala Radio project is to counterbalance negative stereotypes by empowering camp residents to engage in self-representation through digital community radio.
Overview of Calais Refugee Camp
Barriers to Learning
Jungala Radio faces environmental, economic, cultural, legal, political, and technological challenges. These challenges must be understood in the context of the refugee camp environment. The camp has minimal access to water, sanitation, food, healthcare, and education. A report from Birmingham University indicates that the camp is well below the United Nations sanitaion and water access standards (An Environmental Health Assessment of the New Migrant Camp in Calais 2015):
Internationally agreed standards for the provision of aid and protection in refugee situations are nowhere to be found in Calais. Humanitarian ratios for the provision of the basics in emergency conditions like the number of toilets per person are being blatantly disregarded. This is a blight on Europe, who should and can do better.
Many refugees spend their nights trying to jump the tunnel or meet with smugglers to get on the backs of trucks. Some of our participants would walk 40km each night to meet with smugglers in Dunkirk. After failed attempts with smugglers, they return back to the camp in Calais to rest.
Attempting to jump trucks and trains requires surmounting many physical and mental challenges, from hiding in cramped and wet places for long periods of time, jumping large fences, avoiding security, police, polices dogs, all the while trying to stay dry and warm. The activities at night are dangerous and can often lead to injury or death.
Weather conditions affect how camp residents sleep. The camp is extremely active at night with many refugees choosing to sleep during the day when it is warmer and quieter. Our training sessions therefore revolved around people's sleeping patterns. We quickly established that there was a short window of opportunity for learning in the day that peaked between 3pm – 6pm where people could commit to learning. Conflicts of interest arose for participants as they had to decide between wanting to learn new skills which required a time commitment and trying to get to the UK. There was a certain level of reluctance at times that if they committed to training sessions that this would interfere with their opportunities of getting to the UK. Participants found this frustrating.
The camp is extremely limited in term of its technological development. This is due to its inability to create stable and permanent infrastructure. There are two organisations onsite that provide internet to the 10,000 people living in the camp. Only a very small number of refugees can access the internet and no downloading is available. Approximately 30-40 people at one time can access social media sites such as Snapchat, Viber, and Facebook from smart phones. The internet connection is extremely poor and connectivity is limited.
The Jungle currently has 2 Wi-Fi hotspots installed and maintained by the "World Wide Tribe" .The signal is bounced from a fibre connection which is located in the L’auberges des Migrants warehouse approximately 3 KM off-site. The 4G data signal is captured, and transmitted back out to two other spots within the camp: Alpha's school and Jungle Books Library. The internet operates using phone sim cards, drawing on a 50 GB allowance every two days using 3 or 4 sim cards a week for each point of transmission.
The electricity for the devices is drawn from a 12v mobility scooter battery that must be charged by a generator for at least 2 hours a day. Internet connectivity is reliant on a generator. Quite often the generator will run out of fuel and it can take up to two hours to get fuel. During the winter this is problematic.
Group work was an integral part of creating a community that would engage and commit to digital learning and creating digital content. Our decision making as a group was based on democratic practice which was influenced by participatory action research, the ethos of community radio, and group work theory. Community development projects that use radio as a tool tend to be effective and successful (Frazer & Estrada, 2001) where attention is paid to cultivating that community (UNESCO Community Radio Handbook).
Our initial outreach exercise extended to five participants. After five days of intense training, the group had created a sense of identity and community. This was evident in their commitment to naming the station, setting out a group contract and rules of engagement, and turning up for training sessions. Tasks were divided into group work and technical training. Using group work theory and participatory action research had a direct impact on the group dynamics and created a healthy working environment.
As participants developed new skills, their style of creating digital content evolved. They progressed from densely scripted programmes to being able to critically assess and challenge their interviewees while continuously thinking about technical aspects of recording such as gauging ambient sound and ensuring a suitable environment for recording.
What we used and Why we used it
The first issues we tackled were the “How?” and “What?” of the project. We framed the project as having 3 core elements:
- Digital Platform - An easy to use, communication platform that enabled the use of digital and social media tools in a challenging environment.
- Mobility & Flexibility - Equipment needed to be hardy to allow for camp conditions yet light so people could carry it around the camp.
- Facilitative Training - Creating a sense of belonging and group cohesiveness through facilitative training was pivotal in sustaining the project.
Technological decisions were made by considering their relative simplicity, accessibility, and affordability.
First, we knew we needed to use simple tools that our participants had prior experience using. We believed that a broader scope of digital tools would mean greater likelihood for participation and engagement from camp residents. Second, the transient nature of the camp meant that the environment acted as a deterrent for any sort of stable presence within the camp and so, from a technological perspective we needed to keep the creation of the digital platform as simple as possible. We knew that we were always going to be disadvantaged by the environment.
We needed to use open source materials so our participants could access the various digital tools and software needed should they decide to continue their work if they move away from the Calais Refugee Camp and the Jungala project.
We had little or no access to funding in the first phase of planning. We did not have a sufficient budget to purchase editing software, hi-tech equipment or a high-spec digital platform. This was a no to low budget digital project.
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Youtube
Web Hosting: free account from Webflow
Hardware: 2 laptops, 2 Tascam DR-05 audio recorders, 2 headphones, 1 external hard drive
Integration of Digital Tools to Create Platform
Having a centralised point for podcasts on a social sound platform was a crucial part of our online strategy. We decided that we needed to maintain cohesion across all content. We selected Soundcloud due to its downloading and integration capabilities. This made our shows more accessible to wider audiences. Once we uploaded an mp3 file to Soundcloud Jungala Radio, the file would automatically be linked to Jungalaradio.com, Facebook Jungala Radio, and Twitter JungalaRadio. The integration function of Soundcloud allowed for smooth dissemination of content to our social media outlets.
Creating the Group
This is the critical intersection, where the humanities meet the digital in the Jungala project.
There are a number of skills and theories that are pivotal in the provision of effective group work such as communication, person centre theory, active listening, reflective practice, and the ability to create trusting relationships (Fitzgerald, 2016). We specifically focused on communication, listening and talking skills, confidence building, community participation & engagement, broadcasting and presenting skills, research skills, peer engagement, digital tool use, and digital production and post production skills.
Participatory Action Research was chosen as a methodology for this project. Selecting this methodology allowed for incorporation of many theories during the planning and delivery phases project. The qualitative nature of Participatory Action Research (PAR) makes it suitable as a methodology for the Jungala project. McIntyre, (2007) discusses 3 prominent characteristics of PAR, the active participation of both the researcher and participant in co-constructing knowledge, the acknowledgement of self and critical awareness that leads to individual, collective or social change and the building of rapport between researcher and participant throughout the process. The most important aspect of PAR is to create social change. By its very nature PAR is completely immersive as both participant and researcher become learners and strive for social change together. The traditional power dynamic of researcher and participant is removed as the development and engagement of the researcher integrates into the community setting. The researcher thus becomes a participant and the participant becomes a researcher (McIntyre, 2007).
We needed a crowdsourcing platform that allowed for integration of Facebook and Twitter to allow us to promote and fundraise effectively. Gofundme had this function. We used it as a way of raising valuable cash assets to buy essential equipment. A GoFundMe page raised €600 and this gave us an initial cash injection to pay for equipment. We continue to use this as a way of receiving donations to support the project. The funding allowed us to purchase one laptop, two tascam audio recorders and two sets of headphones.
Skills and Resources
Technical Skills needed: Proficiency in any open source sound editing software, social media networking, basic knowledge of Webflow which is a drag and drop tool which enables website design without a knowledge of coding.
Competencies needed: Fundraising, youth and community facilitation skills, radio editing, presenting and production skills.
Infrastructure needed: Internet connection, laptop, audio recorder, mic and headphones- space to learn and produce in.
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1. How did your academic background, experience, and/or professional interests prepare you for this project, and projects like it generally?
I think my academic background definitely helped shape my contribution to the project. I have a degree in youth and community work and so I drew on many of the community development theories and models associated with working with groups into the project. My MA in digital cultures developed my critical thinking abilities in terms of allowing me to examine a social issue and apply a digital solution. I was lucky that I had really supportive supervisors in college that gave me the confidence and really encouraged me to put ideas into action.
2. If needed, what new things did you learn during the project (technical skills, managerial skills, team building, project management, etc.)? How did you approach learning them?
This was such a huge learning curve for both facilitators and participants.Using participatory action (PAR) research allowed for us as facilitators to become an integral part of the Jungala Radio community and an authentic culture of knowledge and skills sharing between participants and facilitators emerged. We based our decision making on democratic practices and so this also contributed towards creating a healthy and trusting working environment. It was important that participants felt a sense of belonging to the group for the future success of the project.
In terms of technical abilities, whilst facilitators had experience with using most of the social and digital tools used, managing the communicative platform proved to be challenging in terms of learning how we approached and maintained our digital presence whilst participants developed their editing and communication skills in through English. The lack of internet in the camp was undoubtedly the most challenging aspect for both facilitators and participants.
3. Thinking on the project as a whole, if you could distill your experience what key lessons would you share?
I think with this type of work, you will only know if it works by trying it out in the field and learning from trial and error. Team work and working together is so crucial when working on such projects. Adaptability, patience and tenacity are qualities that you will develop very quickly when working under camp conditions.
On the 24th October 2016, French Authorities began the final eviction phase of the camp in Calais. Many refugees have now been placed in CAO centres across France and are currently waiting on assessment of their asylum claims. New camps have sprung up along the Northern French coastline, some refugees continue to live around Calais in forest and wasteland areas. A process has been started for unaccompanied minors to travel to the UK under the Dubs Amendment for the 1200 children that lived in the camp alone.