Sanctuary in Chichester is a voluntary organisation and we are growing to meet the needs of the increasing numbers refugees and asylum seekers in our area. We need volunteers who have regular time to commit and – depending on their role – who have their own transport.

Here are some specific volunteer roles we are trying to fill:

Befriending – we are in particular need of volunteer befrienders (singles or couples) at the moment, to support individual families in Bognor, Tangmere and Bracklesham. We need people who have the flexibility to spare a few hours each week to really get to know a family and help them settle into UK life, supporting them to gradually gain confidence and build their new lives until they don’t need our support anymore.

You will be part of small team working together to support each family with their various needs by being a solid, friendly presence in their lives as well as giving day-to-day practical help, which and may involve taking them to our drop-in sessions (where they can learn English), showing them where local food banks are, helping with arranging GP or hospital appointments, accompanying them to appointments, helping fill in NHS forms and liaising with schools. New arrivals need help with everything, from understanding how to take the bus to finding a cheap supermarket, as well of course as friendship and conversation – even if they don’t speak much English! Over time, your role will evolve to showing and supporting your befriendees to do things for themselves and become independent.

If you are empathetic, resilient (hearing people’s stories can be tough) and have good practical and advocacy skills, we would love to hear from you. Come and join our amazing team of befrienders, who will tell you the role can be challenging – and very time-consuming if you are assigned to a newly-arrived family – but extremely rewarding. You will be well-supported to make a huge difference to people’s lives. If you feel the befriender role is for you, please fill out this application form.

English tutors, to teach English to people of various ages and first languages, one-to-one. Our dedicated, hard-working tutors do an incredible job, but we currently have a waiting list of people who would like our English learning support. If you have an ESOL or TEFL qualification and have at least one hour per week to volunteer with us, please fill out this application form.

Trustees – we would particularly love to hear from anyone who arrived in the UK as a refugee or migrant and is now settled, or has African or Middle Eastern heritage. Email contact@sanctuaryinchichester.org if you’re interested and would like to know more.

Pathways to Independence:

Companies or sole traders that can offer work experience, internships, short-term work or indeed jobs to refugees living locally. (Asylum seekers can work on a voluntary basis; those with refugee status can take formal paid work.)

Mentors – whatever sector you work in or have experience of, you may be able to support a refugee into work. Refugees and asylum seekers usually have professional experience already, but lack the knowledge of how things work in the UK, and the specific English vocabulary for their sector.

If you feel you might be able to support with this area of our work, please email our Pathways to Independence Manager, Kerry Foster.

Emergency accommodation for individual asylum seekers. We sometimes need to find somewhere for people to stay at short notice, so we aim to build a small database of people willing to help with rooms, in whatever capacity suits the host.

Email contact@sanctuaryinchichester.org if you’re interested in volunteering or would like to know more.

One of our members, Alwyn, recently did an accompanied visit with a young man who arrived in the UK as a refugee from Afghanistan.

I was delighted to meet and assist Aamir. He conversed very well in English but he told me that he thought his accent and his writing sometimes let him down. We spoke much about cricket. He has very high hopes for a career in that direction; a top score of 146 he said. I asked him to repeat it! My top score in the past was 72.

He said that he has found the people of Chichester to be very friendly and welcoming after his arduous journey here. He came from Afghanistan via Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Italy and then he spent nine months in the Calais Jungle. He is so optimistic and fun to be with and I hope that he finds a home here in due course.

(We’ve changed Aamir’s name to protect his identity)