We visit refugees and asylum seekers where they live. This is an effective way to identify issues, especially where the most vulnerable and isolated are concerned.
A member of Asha’s staff (accompanied by an asylum volunteer) will make around four home visits each week to meet new arrivals. They may be encouraged to attend one of our activities, be referred to another service or even offered the opportunity to help others by becoming volunteers themselves.
Asha launched its befriending project in 2018 as part of its outreach services to those seeking asylum.
That can be a long, difficult process – and being befriended by someone from the local community can play a pivotal role in the asylum seeker’s journey.
We are building a team of volunteers to offer consistent, compassionate support and encouragement – through listening, conversational English and signposting to other services. All volunteers are given training and ongoing support.
One of our clients said: “Befrienders are excellent at providing the invisible things – showing you around, providing company and giving you the feeling of a normal life.”
While waiting to know if their application for asylum is successful, only those on a short list of prescribed occupations are allowed to work. Many wait months or even years condemned to idleness and inactivity.
This is why Asha is developing a volunteering programme. Currently, asylum seekers are giving their time and skills in hospitals, hospices, care homes, charity shops, food banks, schools, the RVS and YMCA, No 11 (catering in a homeless people’s drop-in), B Arts, South West Peak and the list is growing.
Volunteering enables asylum seekers to contribute to their new community and helps to break down stereotypes of asylum seekers here to claim benefits. One asylum seeker commented that his volunteering day was the only day in the week when he felt ‘properly human again’.
Please get in touch if you would like to offer an asylum seeker an opportunity to work voluntarily for your organisation or charity.