You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand how escapism adds value to our lives in times of crisis. Sometimes, the pressure to survive is just too great for our conscious brains to withstand. That’s why it’s important to allow ourselves to be distracted, so we can encourage easier thinking and a shift in perspective that opens up new avenues of opportunity. But not everyone has the privilege to simply, escape. What about the people who don’t have any facilities, never mind the facilities to take a break.
That’s where Unit comes in. Unit is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO) working internationally to offer a moment of escapism to those in difficult circumstances. The name is derived from the cargo shipping units that we use and convert into our bespoke spaces of escape. These units are split into three themes based on the activities they cater for; peace, play and party. The units are fully portable and compactly kitted out with TV monitors, arts and crafts facilities, headphones, literature, toys etc. and are transported internationally to places that need them most. The converted shipping containers are ideal as they are fully flexible to stay in any location for however long, or however short a time period as required.
We offer people in crisis a moment of escapism from the current circumstances they find themselves. Such crisis’s can range from needing respite from the break-down of relationships, redundancy, health implications, homelessness or extreme poverty. No matter what an individual may be going through, our aim is to provide a space of temporary solitude, a time out, to regenerate or for respite. A place where they can simply, escape.
Unit is a charity that operates from donations and fundraising. The organisation has a number of teams that work all year round. We can send out our units in groups of three, or individually, with volunteers accompanying each unit. For example, ‘Play’ unit may have 2 volunteers that drive the unit to a destination. When parked up, they will stay with the unit and supervise its use. Typically, a stay lasts for 1/2 weeks, but the beauty of the converted shipping containers mean that we have full flexibility on the time period.
We do have a number of permanent units that have been left in residential areas beside youth clubs or community centres. These units have been donated to poorer areas at the community staff oversea their usage. Another positive to the use of the converted storage container is that they can
be locked up and be fully secure when not in use.
We respond to tips and people who are struggling via our website. We try to be as active as we can on social media and respond to messages as much as we can. To decide where we send our units we go where we have a committee who make the decision to go where the need is greatest, and where the people requesting the units will get the most benefit out of them.
Our biggest ongoing project at the minute is at Camp Moria, on the Greek Island of Lesvos. This is the largest refugee camp in Europe where entire families are living in tents. There is nowhere for children, teenagers or adults to do any of the things that many of us take for granted on a daily basis. We seek to provide a brief moment of forgetting their sorrow, so that they can feel rejuvenated and remain hopeful. We want to show that we care.