If you don’t have refugees or asylum seekers in your area…
…..but still wish to do something…
…..consider inviting asylum seekers from cities into your area for a group befriending day, which could then lead to hosting overnight breaks for your new asylum seeking friends.
- Gather together friends and folks who share an interest in this. Maybe invite people to watch a film or two.
- Choose a Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, plus two other people to form a committee.
- Draft a constitution.
- (Contact your local voluntary action or community and voluntary services organisation for training on committee roles and responsiblities to refresh people’s knowledge. You will also need them to carry out necessary DBS checks on your volunteers.)
- Adopt necessary policies: data protection (essential) (sample policy, do registration self-assessment), equality (essential, please adapt), health and safety (statement and arrangements – essential, please adapt), safeguarding (essential), confidentiality (recommended, please adapt), and finance policy and procedures (recommended, needs adapting and expanding). Create a risk register and review this at each committee meeting.
- Open a bank account. Start this early on so that, if you do get a grant, you’ll be eligible to take delivery of it. (You’ll want forms for expenses, bank card usage, and petty cash.)
- Start a (free) MailChimp mailing list (using their GDPR support) to ensure your supporters stay up to date.
- Contact your nearest refugee organisation (check the City of Sanctuary list) to begin discussing a partnership. (They are the ones will send a volunteer or staff member along with a group of asylum seekers/refugees for your befriending days.) You will need a data sharing agreement with them. They will need information about the scheme in guest languages (coming soon, currently in English), safeguarding information in guest languages (coming soon), and feedback forms.
- Have a fundraiser to drum up support. Pancake evening, film night, music night, tea & cakes, or get creative. Cost out what one befriending day might be. For example, a minibus hired from your refugee organisation partner’s location, plus, say, fish ‘n chips for befrienders and guests, plus admission into a local museum.
- Ask for befriending volunteers and then begin their training programme. (Start their DBS checks right away.)
- Once you have your partnership, trained your volunteers, and raised your money, you can plan your first befriending day! Here are some tips.
- Afterwards, get feedback from befrienders and guests; this will be great for publicity and for seeking grants.
- Repeat 9-12 many times.
- If anyone seems keen to do overnight hosting (after having experienced the love and beauty of the befriending day), you can give them the guidance, have them complete the application, check their references, and vet their house.
- If your partnership organisation is unable to refer guests for overnight breaks (due to not knowing them well enough), begin finding another partner for this part of the scheme. Once you found the right one, make a data sharing agreement, give them the information about the scheme (coming soon, currently in English) and the safeguarding materials in guest languages (coming soon), referral forms, and feedback forms.
- All along, look for community grants to support your befriending days and the transport costs for guests staying for overnight breaks.
- Don’t forget to keep publicising what you’re doing; these activities are great for raising awareness about what it’s like to be an asylum seeker/refugee in the UK.
Any questions? Contact us.