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. So there are lots of aspects of our work we need help with! We’re also developing our existing activities and adding some new ones (e.g. Pathways to Work), so we need an injection of expertise and support. We need volunteers who have regular time to commit and – depending on their role – who have their own transport.

Volunteering with Sanctuary in Chichester can be the ultimate in rewarding community work, as we personally support our refugee friends to recover, learn English and grow. However, sometimes it can also be challenging, hard work and ocassionally upsetting. But we do aim to give our volunteers the training and support they need to ensure their work is safe, fullfilling and an opportunity to learn a lot 🙂 So if you feel able to commit some regular time, please fill in this application form as a first step.

Here are some specific volunteer roles we are trying to fill, but do feel free to suggest any other areas you might be able to help us with:

Befriending – this involves joining a small team of support workers, who take care of a particular family or individual. 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 be to show your befriendees how to do things for themselves and become independent.

English tutors, to teach English to people of various ages, origins and languages. We offer formal English lessons and informal English conversation, as well as home tutoring. This is probably our most important workstream, and our dedicated, hard-working tutors do an incredible job, but we are fully up to capacity and badly need to find some new ESOL teachers.

Management positions – we would particularly love to hear from anyone who arrived in the UK as a refugee or immigrant and are now settled, and especially those from Africa and the Middle East. Paid positions are also available.

Pathways to Work:

  • 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.
  • Expertise – we’d like to find people with expertise in specific areas of work, e.g. events organising, health & safety and admin, so that we can support our refugee friends to volunteer for us whilst learning how to carry out the 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.

Drop-ins & social:

  • Outings organisers
  • Organisers for drop-in activities
  • External presenters
  • Benefits and Universal Credit advisors

Interpreters & translators – Dari (& Farsi), Pashto, Tigryna, Arabic, Ukranian.

Emergency accommodation, for asylum seekers. We often 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)