This week (June 1st – 8th 2012) is Volunteers’ Week, celebrating the contribution of volunteers around the country. Here’s a post from Emma, Refugee Action’s National Volunteer Manager, all about the great work volunteers do at Refugee Action.
Hello! My name is Emma and I’m the National Volunteering Manager for Refugee Action.
I’ve worked for Refugee Action for the past 5 years, co-ordinating volunteers on all kinds of projects. Some have been volunteer mentors, offering advice, friendship and support to refugees. Other have helped to run wellbeing activities like cycling or cookery, reaching out to isolated people and enabling them to feel welcomed and safe. Lots more have been specialist asylum advice volunteers, helping people to make sense of complicated situations and understand their rights. Whatever role they’ve played, all of our volunteers have been hugely important to our work.
As of June 2012, Refugee Action has 192 active volunteers across eight offices, doing more than twenty different roles. Last year alone, they gave up more than 50,000 hours of their time to support refugees and asylum seekers. Volunteers work with us in loads of different ways, and new projects – like the Shared Awareness Project in Liverpool, which empowers volunteers to speak out against asylum myths, and the new Comic Relief funded Women’s Project in Bristol, which will offer specialist support to female asylum seekers – are adding new roles into the mix all the time.
Volunteers are brilliant because they add so much value to our projects and services. Not only does their contribution help us to reach more people, but they can often spend more time working one to one with individuals or in small groups. An analogy I like to use is that Refugee Action is like a bicycle: our staff are the chain, pedals and gears, providing the integral driving force to our work, and volunteers are the wheels, putting that energy into motion and helping us to “go further” for the people we support.
As National Volunteering Manager, it’s my job to make sure staff and volunteers are able to work together across all of our offices. It’s vital for us to share best practice on how best to support and develop our volunteers, even though their roles can be very different! I’ll be creating a new national volunteering strategy, ensuring that Refugee Action can continue to develop exciting plans for volunteers that enable them to be really successful at what they do.
This Volunteers’ Week (1st- 7th June), Refugee Action will be highlighting the great work done by our volunteers. Look out for “day in the life” snapshots from our volunteers around the country, as well as photos of our teams, and fact and figures about our projects. Most importantly though, we’ll be saying a massive thank you to everyone who’s volunteered with us over the years – you’re all amazing, and we couldn’t do this without your help. Thank you!
Posted by Eleanor Dean