Volunteer refugee befriender

Aid and emergency | Refugees | Children and young people | Families | Culture, heritage and events | Environment and animals | Health and social care | Mental health | People and communities | Education and literacy | Older people | Refugees | Women | Social justice and democracy | Sports

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Location: Morden Hill, London, SE13 7NP (see map)

Travel: Elverson Road station. Morden Hill bus stop.

Start date: Ongoing

What will I be doing?

  • Befriending refugees can be whatever you want it to look like. For many people, it is a simple act of friendship and support. Befrienders typically give an hour a week to spend with the person/ family they are matched with, meeting them in or out of the home, accompanying them to social events or on trips, helping with daily life and just being there for a cup of tea and a chat. They may need help with understanding official letters, booking a doctor's appointment or asking a question of their child's school. But equally, you may decide on a trip to see the sights of London!
  • English language support is in great demand and we have a thriving community of volunteer teachers, some with ESOL accreditation, others with informal English language teaching skills and some who just want to help with conversation. This service is invaluable to refugees, many of whom are keen to top up the classes provided by the council with additional opportunities to speak, hear and learn English. Many visit refugees individually in their homes, others hold informal classes for a few people. You don't need to be a teacher to help someone learn vital language skills.
  • Organising social events is a fantastic way to introduce new families to the area, and to let the Lewisham community engage with the resettlement programme. Communal meals (perhaps with a Syrian theme), sporting events (such as football matches), playdates for groups of mums and children, buddying schemes where people accompany families to playgroups or kids’ classes – all can be amazing ways to bring people together. We’d love to host more of these, with volunteers running them as projects within their local community.
  • Getting into employment is one of the biggest barriers facing refugees – not just full time paid work, but volunteering, internships and work experience can all be great ways to help people find their feet and live independently. There is a great opportunity for volunteers to take some of this on, working with employers, looking for job opportunities, helping refugees with grants, CVs etc.
  • Group management - as well as working directly with the refugees, our group always needs support with running our team of volunteers and supporters.
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What impact will this have?

  • When refugees are resettled, they are finally finding a place of sanctuary after years of fear and danger. They can put roots down and say "we are safe now". Lewisham Refugee Welcome provides the community connections so that they can build friendships, find a warm welcome and be part of a strong community.
  • Befriending is about equality. It is listening, talking, drinking (lots of!) tea, laughing, being kind, hearing difficult stories, learning about another culture, going for a walk. It can have a profound impact on both the volunteer and the person they meet with.
  • As volunteer befriender, you will be helping to build a cohesive society where people are better neighbours, newcomers feel more welcome and cities are more inclusive.

When are you needed?

Options available:
Available times for volunteering role
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Commitment

  • Befriending is a way to help build bridges between your community and refugees who are being resettled in the UK. It isn't a 'job', but a relationship that you commit to building - and that can be entirely flexible as it grows and flourishes.
  • We'd recommend allowing an hour or two per week for your befriending activities - this allows you to get to know each other and develop a trusting, reliable relationship that you both get a lot from.

Expenses

  • We have very limited funding but have a bursary pot for occasional out of pocket expenses. For example, if you and your befriendee wanted to take a trip to the beach, we could fund train tickets; pay for entrance to a cultural experience; cover costs for a meal together.

Background checks

  • A DBS check is required

About the organisation:

Additional Information

What skills will be useful?
  • Academic
  • Foreign languages
  • Maths
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Charity
  • Campaigning
  • Events
  • Fundraising
  • Creative
  • Interpersonal
  • Advice and support
  • Caring
  • Coaching
  • Listening
  • Mentoring
  • Teaching
  • Leadership
  • Organising
  • Practical
  • Professional
  • Councils and public sector
  • Technology
What skills can I gain?
  • Academic
  • Foreign languages
  • Charity
  • Campaigning
  • Events
  • Creative
  • Interpersonal
  • Advice and support
  • Coaching
  • Listening
  • Mentoring
  • Teaching
  • Youth work
  • Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Organising
  • Practical
  • Professional
  • Councils and public sector

Training

  • When you join, we will give you a full induction into the role and support as you get going.
  • Our board meets fortnightly to discuss issues, make plans and sort out any issues. You will be welcome to these meetings, to learn and help us grow and develop our group so we can support volunteers and refugees as much as possible
  • We run regular training sessions with all volunteers, and also with refugees to make sure we're providing full support

Location

Morden Hill, London, SE13 7NP

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