Marsh Refugee Volunteer Awards

These Awards are run in partnership with the Refugee Council and recognise five volunteer-led projects which provide services to refugees and asylum seekers across England. The Awards recognise projects run within the Refugee Council’s four core services:

•Resettlement Services – (Gateway Protection Programme)
•Destitution or Therapeutic Casework Services
•Children’s Section
•Integration Servicese

Nominations for the Award are made via the Refugee Council and are judged in partnership with the MCT.

Louise Kinlen, Steve Harrison, Gbemi Shitta, Monica Fhami, Kathryn Brooks, Helen Collinge, Ingrid Davine, Luqman Haroon, Janet Madar, Ingrid Golub & Akashbhatis Sharma, Yordanos Atakle, Najat Abo & Najima Alklib and Anne-Marie Rogis 2022

Louise Kinlen

Louise is a volunteer at the Seasonal Wellbeing Wreath Workshops project, working with clients in the Refugee Council’s resettlement services. She is a trained florist and is involved with both the planning and delivery of the workshops, which will be held three times a year. The workshops will help clients learn new skills and enjoy the effects that the natural world can have on emotional wellbeing. Clients will be able to celebrate different seasons through the workshops, gain knowledge about the flowers and plants they use to create the wreaths and socialise with other clients and volunteers to forge new relationships in their new communities. 

Steve Harrison 

Steve plans to host and facilitate a Poetry Café, which will provide 4 weeks of workshops to encourage clients to build their confidence and skills with the English language and teach them how to express themselves through poetry. He hopes to collaborate with Doncaster Museum and Library to host an event to launch a publication of the poetry written by clients which will help to promote the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in the area. 

Gbemi Shitta

Gbemi is organising a ‘Welcome Autumn’ Family Fun Day in Lewisham, bringing together around 40 resettled families in the local area. Refugees and asylum seekers can find it hard to get the support and advice that they need when settling into a new area, and this event will allow them to come together with others going through the same experiences and leave their worries behind for the day. Gbemi’s event will bring people from different backgrounds together to create lasting friendships with others who have been through similar experiences. 

Monica Fhami 

Monica volunteers with the ‘Home and Gardens’ project, which encourages clients to see their home and garden as a safe and therapeutic space. Monica plans to coordinate a day trip for clients who attend the Refugee Council’s destitution services to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. This day trip will allow the clients to experience nature that they may not have experienced before, as well as giving them the opportunity to purchase rugs and plants to decorate the social space at the day centre and create a homely environment. 

Kathryn Brooks

Kathryn plans to organise a World Music Workshop for clients which will include musical group ‘Earthsong Music’ presenting an interactive, hands-on experience which will incorporate instruments and music from around the world. Kathryn will communicate with presenters, prepare the space for the workshop and collect instruments for the clients to use. It is hoped that the workshop will enable clients to have first hand experience of new instruments and types of music, which will then encourage them to share their experiences from their own countries. 

Helen Collinge

Helen plans to take a group of refugees and asylum seekers to two cultural events in Yorkshire, to help them get to know the local area in more depth. The first is the Great Yorkshire Show, which will expose the group to all aspects of life in Yorkshire and give them the opportunity to experience new things about their local community altogether. The second is the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which will give the group the opportunity to learn about the local environment and experience art situated in this environment. It is hoped that both of these visits will encourage conversations within the group and create relationships that will benefit their mental and physical wellbeing. 

Ingrid Davine

Ingrid, along with a team of volunteers, will work with the Refugee Council’s destitution services to purchase vouchers which will be helpful to clients in their day to day lives. The vouchers will be for supermarkets and mobile phones, which will help clients to feed their families and also to stay in touch with their friends, family, caseworkers and other support networks. The vouchers allow clients to focus on getting their paperwork and documents in order, since they know that they are able to feed and look after their families with the security of the vouchers, rather than having to rely on securing benefits and financial aid. 

Luqman Haroon

Luqman volunteers with the Health Access for Refugees Project (HARP) to run drop-in centres and conversational clubs for clients living in temporary accommodation. The drop-in centres are run weekly and Luqman will use the opportunity to create an informal English language learning space. Tablets used by clients to complete forms for the drop-in centres will also be used to access online language learning resources. This will hopefully, as well as improve clients’ grasp of the language of their new country, have a positive effect on their mental health as they have the opportunity to keep their minds active. 

Janette Madar

Janette is planning to organise a number of wellbeing activities for clients in temporary accommodation. The first of these is a canal walk in Leeds and Liverpool which will introduce them to the industrial history of the North of England and learn how British society has evolved throughout the ages. The second is a trip to Flamborough Head to walk along the clifftop path, introducing clients to a British tradition of spending time at the coast and teaching them about the coastal environment. The final trip Janette has planned is to Hebden Bridge to teach clients about the industrial revolution in the UK and how this has shaped life in Britain. These activities will encourage clients to spend time together, while also learning about the country that they now live in so that they are able to integrate with their new community. 

 Indigo Golub and Akashbhatis Sharma

These volunteers work with the Refugee Advice Project to run ‘Breaking Bread’, a programme which aims to support low-income clients whose food insecurity may prevent them from accessing the items they need to perform certain religious rituals. The programme will provide clients with supermarket vouchers to purchase the items that they need and will work with other organisations to encourage matched donations around the time of religious holidays when items are needed most. The programme will allow clients to feel comfortable in their new communities as they will be able to continue the religious practices which are important to them. 

Yordanos Atakle

Yordanos has organised to work with the Wildlife Trusts to provide volunteering activities for asylum seekers in temporary accommodation in Rotherham. Clients will have the opportunity to get involved in practical activities such as building fences and gardening, as well as take trips to locations such as the Peak District in order to benefit their mental wellbeing. Yordanos will help to organise these volunteering activities and work with clients to encourage them to take part and get involved. 

Najat Abo and Najima Alklib

These volunteers run the North Allerton Women’s group, which was established towards the end of lockdown in 2021 to help families who were experiencing feelings of isolation. Refugee and asylum seeking families that arrived in the UK at this time had limited opportunities to make connections in their local communities and the group was formed to respond to these needs. The 16 women who attend the group attend weekly sessions to gain confidence in speaking English as well as create meaningful relationships with other women and families who are going through similar experiences. The group provides women with the opportunity to share their experiences and cultures, while allowing them to become more engaged with their new communities. 

Anne-Marie Rogis

Anne-Marie gives of her time to volunteer for the destitution services at the Refugee Council. She would like to gain access to a music studio, both to record songs which can be shared with Refugee Council services as wellbeing resources and to encourage other clients to get involved in producing and recording songs to share their experiences. The produced songs can also be shared online to raise awareness of the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. 

Previous Winners

Paula Burton, Osman Elkhidir, Val Huzzard, Courtenay Bes-Green, Hazel Allen, Zoë Illingworth, Ciara Crummey, Nahla Shebani, Hamida Khoder, Ciara Crummeyand Brenda Kabaseke

Pamela Burton – organising a visit to Hampton Court Palace for her students who are learning English, to help teach them more about the history and culture of their new country.  

Osman Elkhidir – coordinator of the Hertfordshire Men’s Group which has been running weekly social sessions throughout the pandemic. Osman is planning to organise an outdoor social event for the group to meet in person for the first time.  

Val Huzzard – organising an event for Refugee Council clients at her allotment for families to meet and to encourage them to join her weekly allotment group and grow their own healthy produce to take home. 

Courtenay Bes-Green – organising an event to take young people who are members of her homework help group to the beach so that they can socialise with one another in person and get to know more about the local area. 

Hazel Allen – organising for clients to take part in song-writing workshops with singers from Opera North, encouraging them to explore the theme of ‘Home’ and share their experiences on how their lives have changed since coming to the UK. 

Zoë Illingworth – planning to host a series of workshops providing separated children (those who have come to the UK through as refugees without their families) with the opportunity to share their experiences and seek support. 

Ciara Crummey – planning to run a project to help clients access supermarket and mobile phone credit vouchers while they are unable to receive benefits because of their immigration status, allowing them to continue to support themselves and their families.  

Nahla Shebani – a volunteer with the Barnsley Refugee Advice Project who is running a weekly ‘Learn English through Cooking’ session, encouraging women to present recipes from their countries while practising their English. The Award will be used to produce a cookbook of the recipes that have been shared during the sessions. 

Hamida Khoder – organising a day trip to a local theme park for service users who arrived in Leeds in 2021 through the Resettlement Programme, helping them to join together socially and form relationships between families in the area. 

Ciara Crummey – running a project to provide a small green space for clients and staff to be able to relax in, supporting their mental and emotional health while dealing with hard-hitting topics in sessions. 

Brenda Kabaseke – planning to introduce a ‘Place of Peaceful Distancing’ for clients to use while waiting for their appointments, helping them to feel more relaxed and at ease. 

Pamela Burton, Osman Elkhidir, Val Huzzard, Courtenay Bes-Green, Hazel Allen, Zoë Illingworth, Ciara Crummeu, Nahla Shebani, Hamida Khoder, Mandy Kemp, Brenda Kabaseke

Pamela Burton  

Pamela is planning a visit to Hampton Court Palace for her students who are learning English and have been learning about Henry VIII during their English lessons. It is hoped that the visit will peak their interest in a subject that they are familiar with and teach them more about the history and culture of their new country. Pamela has arranged for the group to meet with the Community Learning Producer at Hampton Court Palace, as part of their Community Partnership Programme. The volunteers will accompany the students and the visit will give the students the opportunity to meet in person and connect with one another, after a year of meeting solely online. 

Osman Elkhidir  

Osman, along with a fellow volunteer, coordinates the Hertfordshire Men’s Group, which has been running weekly sessions online throughout the pandemic. The group focuses on improving English language skills as well as providing an opportunity to socialise and converse in Arabic. Now that the government guidance has been relaxed, the group are incredibly keen to get outdoors and to meet each other face to face and travel to other parts of the country. The Award would go towards purchasing equipment to use during an event to celebrate the end of lockdown and reward the men for their commitment throughout the pandemic. Any resources purchased will then be used at future meetings. 

Val Huzzard  

Val hopes to organise an event at her allotment to bring service users together for a social event in the fresh air to celebrate the easing of Covid related restrictions and enjoy the beautiful green space. By attending the event and learning what the space has to offer, she also hopes to encourage more clients to join the weekly Refugee Council allotment group and grow their own healthy produce to take home and share with their families. Activities at the event will include: sowing a pit of herbs to take home, flower pressing, botanical art sessions, children’s games and sharing refreshments. Many of the items purchased for the event will continue to be used afterwards at the weekly allotment group and therefore benefit many more clients in the future beyond the event. 

Courtenay Bes-Green  

Courtenay currently works with groups of young people offering homework support and a social group via an online platform. As Lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease, the group are keen to meet face to face and offer the opportunity to explore the local area with a trip to the coast, and the opportunity to socialise and have fun at the beach. The clients involved in this trip arrived in the UK either during or just before the lockdown and have had little or no opportunity to socialise in person with any other local families or to travel beyond their very local area. Courtenay hopes that this trip will have a really beneficial and positive impact on the wellbeing and mental health of this client group and will establish relationships between the families involved and the volunteers who accompany them and will continue to help them in the future. 

Hazel Allen  

Hazel is organising for service users to attend a series of song writing workshops with professionals from Opera North. With assistance, the group will write a song on the theme of “Home” and musicians will then work with the group to provide a professional version of the song. The final version of the song will be one of the community songs to be performed over the speakers when people enter Opera North’s building. The group will learn about song writing with professionals from Opera North and will have time to reflect on the meaning of “Home”, and how their thoughts on this has changed since they have come to the UK. Volunteers will be there to enable service users to be supported throughout the workshop, helping to raise their confidence when needed and to explain the activities, where language skills may be a barrier. 

Zoë Illingworth 

Zoe is planning to host a series of workshops providing separated children with the opportunity to share their experiences of coming to the UK and their plans for the future. The focus of the workshops is to highlight what an incredible attribute these young people are to society. They will be based around discussion and art, and the artwork will then be collected and published in a leaflet to be distributed and shared widely, providing the participants with a place to be heard in a very tangible way and a way to practice communicating in English. It is hoped that by sharing these stories, awareness will be raised about the large number of asylum seekers under the age of 18 who enter the UK on their own, and the challenges that they face as a result of this. 

Ciara Crummey 

Ciara is planning to run a project which will help clients to access supermarket or mobile phone credit vouchers. These clients are not able to receive benefits because of their immigration status, which puts them at higher risk of destitution and homelessness. By providing supermarket and mobile phone vouchers, clients will be able to feed and care for themselves as well as stay in touch with friends, family, their caseworkers and other charities. These vouchers significantly benefit clients as they are able to continue supporting themselves while their immigration documents are being gathered together. 

Nahla Shebani 

Nahla is a volunteer with the Barnsley Refugee Advice Project who have been running a weekly ‘Learn English through Cooking’ session for Women online throughout the pandemic. It is a safe space for women to present recipes from their country of origin whilst practicing their English. Clients are supported to share and celebrate their religions and cultures. The group is attended by women from a variety of cultural and national backgrounds and provides a safe space where women are able to discuss and seek support for a variety of issues. Nahla would like to produce a cookbook of the recipes shared by the group which can be sold in local shops, galleries and museums. The book will highlight their passion and commitment to learn, share experiences and improved mental wellbeing through the joy of cooking. The proceeds from the sale of the book can be used towards the women’s group to purchase bus tickets and supermarket vouchers. 

Hamida Khoder 

Hamida would like to organise a day trip to a local theme park for service users in the Refugee Council’s resettlement service, to help them come together socially now that the lockdown restrictions have been eased and form relationships with one another. The clients involved are new families who arrived in Leeds in 2021 through the Resettlement Programme. As they came to the UK during lockdown, they have not had the chance to meet and socialise with one another, or form the important supportive relationships which will help them settle in to their new environment. While the proposed activity is only for a day, the benefits will be much more long-term. 

Mandy Kemp 

Mandy is planning to run a local history and wellbeing day at Elsecar Heritage Centre in Barnsley, a historical site that was once at the forefront of the northern coal and iron industries and today is a living museum to the work and lives of the people living in those times. The day will be an opportunity for asylum seekers and refugees to learn about English history and culture, helping them connect with the local area and the people who live there, while at the same time providing a much-needed chance for fun social interaction with their peers. 


Ciara Crummey (nominated for a second time, with a different project) 

Ciara is planning to run a project which will provide a small green space for clients and staff to be able to relax in. The space will allow for clients to have specific discussions in a more natural environment as well as to feel a sense of peace and calm which may not arise in a more traditional, office space. In addition, it will also provide an area for staff at the Refugee Council offices in Stratford to use as a break from their screen. Therefore, this project will support the mental and emotional health of staff and clients, while boosting the urbanised environment with some greenery. Volunteers and service users will work together to produce the space, which will provide a fun and collaborative opportunity after a year of only being able to interact online. 

Brenda Kabaseke 

Brenda plans to introduce a Place of Peaceful Distancing, a lovely outdoor garden area for clients waiting for their appointments to sit. Normally, people wait in the waiting room but due to Covid restrictions and to maintain social distancing it would be good to make an area outside for people. A natural, outdoor space will help people to feel more comfortable before their appointments, which can be daunting. The Awards would be spent on making a garden including raised beds, pots and maybe a water feature. It might also be possible to have some native plants to remind people of their homeland. This will enhance the area and create a community feel and provide a space for activities and meetings to be held in a more neutral environment. 

Anastasia Vikhanova, Sarah Dexter, Jack Varley, Maureen Murray, Shalini Mehta, Bethan Robinson and Lucy Huzzard, Ali Bird and Courtenay Bes-Green, Jayne Shipley, Liz Watson and Fatbardha Imeri

Anastasia Vikhanova – Online pre-tenancy Private Rented Scheme (PRS) training 

Pre-tenancy training is one of the essential components of PRS support, it is a compulsory component for clients, and it provides them with knowledge of the UK housing market which will benefit them when they are seeking future accommodation. During the coronavirus, the training sessions were unable to take place, but the volunteers had found that clients had struggled to attend the in-person sessions before lockdown due to other appointments. Moving the training online would provide more flexibility for the sessions and allow clients to complete the course in their own time in a way that is convenient for them. It would also allow for clients to refresh their knowledge as and when they need it and allow the volunteers to keep track of their progress and answer any questions that the clients may have. Once set up, the project could be extended to other clients across the Refugee Council who need support with housing. The Award will be used for all set up costs and for reimbursing the volunteers who take part in delivering the service, with any remaining funds being put towards supporting clients with a lack of internet availability to enable them to activate the service. 

Sarah Dexter – Whiteboards for home learning 

Sarah teaches intermediate English to students, which she has had to do online throughout lockdown, instead of in the actual classroom at the Refugee Council building in Croydon. Although online teaching has been successful it has come with additional challenges, one being that it has been hard for Sarah to match the progress normally seen in writing skills in the actual classroom as seeing what students have written on paper over Zoom can be difficult. Sarah would like to provide a whiteboard and whiteboard marker to each student participating in the online English and Maths classes, around 25 students in total. The boards will be sent directly to the students at home and they would be used in their daily lessons with their teachers. 

Jack Varley – Collaborative Mosaic 

The art of creating a mosaic is accessible to all, including low level English speakers as art crosses all barriers. This project revolves around the relationship between clients and volunteers and during the coronavirus outbreak the volunteers have adapted their role to remotely support students with their homework while schools have been closed. Working remotely has presented several new challenges, including the technical aspect of clients and their families being able to access the work. It can be challenging for clients to open up and trust volunteers and while social distancing has meant that volunteers and clients can’t meet in person, they have continued their work online and provided help and support to clients no matter what their issues were. Completing the mosaic will provide a morale boost to everyone involved and will provide a long lasting benefit to the Refugee Council and the local community as a whole. As serious as the struggle has been in adjusting to the life during the pandemic, perhaps the most positive factor has been the artwork produced, from street art to a child’s drawing. This mosaic will be an opportunity for the Refugee Council to contribute to that legacy. The Award will allow for the purchase, distribution and creation of the supplies needed to create a collaborative mosaic which will be a practical and cost-effective way to help foster the vital bonds between clients and volunteers. 



Maureen Murray – English for Refugees 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Maureen and her team are not able to meet their clients in person to teach or help them improve their English. With clients who have such little proficiency in the language, effective online interaction can be difficult for both the teacher and the learner. They would like to provide volunteers and clients with printed resources to work through together, namely the course and practice books called “English for Everyone”. The project is aimed at refugees who have very limited use of English, and so helping them to improve this is vital in enabling them to settle into the community and start their life in the UK. The Award would enable the purchase and distribution of sufficient copies of the books to facilitate the remote teaching of English and ensure a greater degree of consistency while lessons are taking place remotely. 

Shalini Mehta – Health Access for Refugees Programme (HARP) 

As an art therapy volunteer with HARP, Shalini found it challenging to get people to connect online via Zoom and provide art packs to them. Prior to lockdown, she was supporting asylum seekers in their initial accommodation through art therapy and this proved challenging throughout lockdown. She would use the Award to create art packs with good art supplies to try and engage more with clients. The Award would help the project to function better and be made accessible to more people, as the project will be able to provide art supplies to be used in the weekly art therapy sessions. 

Bethan Robinson and Lucy Huzzard – Allotment Group 

The group began in 2018 to meet the needs of both mental and physical wellbeing and promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Clients benefit greatly from social and therapeutic horticulture – sowing seeds, nurturing them, watching them grow and eventually harvesting them is greatly beneficial. It gives people something to look forward to and it increases self-confidence. Lockdown meant that all activities on the allotment had to come to an end but now that restrictions are lifting, the volunteers are able to maintain the crops and begin to welcome families back one at a time. There is a real demand from clients to be back on the allotment, after being stuck at home for weeks on end with no outside space. The Award would be used to aid safe working on the site, including buying additional tools and an activity table for clients to use for craft activities. The Award would help the project make the move from lockdown back into a carefully managed outdoor activity. 

Ali Bird and Courtenay Bes-Green – Children’s Online Art Group 

The group began in February 2020 as a weekly drop-in session and was a well-attended, positive group. When lockdown happened, the group moved online and classes for clients were run on Zoom, however they soon realised there was an issue with working with families with little or no resources. To enable the class to continue, the volunteers have been lending out arts supplies so that clients can take part, however they would use the Award to provide clients with resources that they could keep and a wider range of materials. The children in the class are not currently attending school, and so the art classes are not only inspiring them creatively but they are expanding their vocabulary and learning new techniques which will be of great benefit to them when they do start school. They are hoping to grow the group in time to come, and they will be able to use the Award to purchase enough arts supplies to make this possible. The resources will be used in the weekly online classes and the children will also be given additional materials that they can complete in their own time. 


Jayne Shipley – North Yorkshire Women’s Group 

The women in this group are from rural areas and small towns in North Yorkshire where there is no Syrian community for them to connect to at the moment. Whilst they have been welcomed by their new communities, they do not have a strong peer group which has resulted in some of them feeling even more isolated during lockdown. The Women’s Group is running via WhatsApp and Zoom and its main purpose is to help the ladies link up with each other and offers companionship. Although this is a relatively new group, the women are already supportive of each other and the core group are encouraging new members to join. The ladies in the group are realising that they are lacking in opportunities to practice their English, which is something that they all want to progress with. They have been using the Zoom chats to learn new vocabulary around topics that they are familiar with and feel confident talking about. The women are encouraged by the volunteers to take ownership of the group and they want to introduce shared activities to make the group more accessible for people who find a discussion in English intimidating. They would like to use the Award to purchase materials for craft packs that the women can use during these activities, including drawing materials, knitting needles and wool and ingredients for cooking activities. 

Liz Watson – Virtual Youth Group 

This group was set up in June 2020, partly in response to the coronavirus lockdown and the isolation this caused. The group connects young female refugees in North Yorkshire, many of whom live in rural, demographically older, areas. This is a safe space for them to be able to talk and share what they have experienced and to help one another to become more resilient. It will also be a good opportunity for future young arrivals in North Yorkshire to instantly connect with people who they can relate to. The Award would allow the volunteers to plan an outing where they can meet in person when it is safe to do so and it would allow the group to purchase art supplies. 

Fatbardha Imeri – HARP Project 

Booking interpreters for health appointments has always been an issue in Rotherham, one which has only gotten worse since coronavirus. Fatbardha’s projects will help the asylum seeker and refugee community in Rotherham to access healthcare through the provision and securing of interpreters. She is aiming to gather the experiences of asylum seekers through focus groups in order to feedback the information to the authorities. The money from the Award will go towards topping up clients’ phones so they can take part in the focus groups, as well as providing additional food vouchers available at the groups to encourage people to attend. The incentives will encourage people who are usually afraid to speak out to come forward and share their experiences. 

Barnsley Refugee Advice Project , Sheffield One World Choir, Health Access for Refugees Project, 'Step by Step' Homework Club, Exploring Brighton Project

Barnsley Refugee Advice Project – Men’s Group
The Men’s Group is a space where asylum seeking men can talk, share and support one another. They hold sessions and discussions on men’s physical health and mental health awareness as well as discussions relating to the community in Barnsley. The men at the group have built a strong and trusting bond with one another and the Award will enable them to plan future well-being activities.

One World Choir, Sheffield
One World Choir is a project that arose to achieve positive social change through the development of a welcoming and vibrant community choir, particularly for asylum seekers and refugees in Sheffield. The project helps break down barriers amongst people of different ethnic backgrounds – the current set list includes songs in Swahili, Arabic, English and Shona – and enables people to build confidence and new friendships. The Award will help to subsidise transport costs, provide childcare during performance rehearsals, provide refreshments and print promotional materials.

Health Access for Refugees Project (HARP), Barnsley
The English for Health class runs on a weekly basis and teaches clients about health access, their healthcare needs and how to communicate these. The project is open to asylum seeker and refugee men, women and children, who all experience a great benefit from attending the classes. The Award will be used to purchase resources for the class and will be put towards bus passes to help make the classes more accessible.

‘Step by Step’ Homework Club, Leeds
At the Homework Club, volunteers assist learners with a variety of different homework including English, Maths, Science and even Philosophy. The Award will be put towards a day out in York for the group. This will be a chance for the learners to visit a new city, experience new surroundings, and learn outside the classroom. The trip will allow the volunteers to engage with all learners, rather than just on a one-to-one basis, and will help the Homework Club to bond as a team.

Exploring Brighton
The Children’s Centre in Croydon plans to take a group of children who regularly attend ESOL classes on a day trip to visit Brighton. This will enable them to learn more about the history and geography of the UK, and the activities throughout the day will link in with English language learning themes including using maps, giving directions, using public transport and taking part in healthy activities.

Therapeutic Horticulture, Photography Workshops, The Conversation Club, The Hip Hop Shakespeare Club and Dalston Destitution Monthly Music

‘Therapeutic Horticulture’ – Sheffield Allotment Project: Beth Robinson

Beth has studied therapeutic horticulture and has designed and is leading on a project that draws on Middle Eastern and African traditions of subsistence agriculture. The project develops a safe, inclusive space for Refugee Council clients and members of the wider refugee and asylum seeker community. The Award will go towards resources to facilitate the project, including a shelter, compost and water butt and developing a play area for children.

‘Photography Workshops’: Lea Endres and Aoife Doonan, London

Lea & Aoife want to use photography to tackle isolation and promote wellbeing among Refugee Council clients, allowing them to express themselves in a direct way that overcomes the language barrier. Initially the volunteers will run an introductory session where clients will be given disposable cameras to use. Following this, group trips to different places of interest will be organised, including trips to historical and touristic sites in central London, parks and to explore the neighbourhoods where clients live. All trips will be followed by a debrief session where clients will discuss their experience. They are hoping to organise a public exhibition at the end of the project to showcase the work of the clients.

‘The Conversation Club:’ Pat Durie, Barnsley, South Yorkshire

The Conversation Club is a popular class that runs weekly for over 20 refugees and asylum seekers in Barnsley, who come and practice their English language skills, play games and socialise. The Award will go towards bus passes for clients who have moved away from the area and are currently unable to attend the club. Pat also hopes to fund a trip for all members of the club to visit a place of local interest, which would incorporate English language learning activities.

‘Hip Hop Shakespeare Club’: Croydon Children’s Section Volunteers

This project is designed to encourage young people to develop new skills in performing arts by creating excitement around words and rhyming. The project will promote a positive experience of Shakespeare, music, literature and arts. Interactive sessions are designed to assist in building self-confidence and unlocking creative abilities. The workshops will be delivered throughout the summer holidays in partnership with the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, with interpreters and volunteers to provide support.

‘Dalston Destitution Monthly Music’: Ruth Franks, London

Ruth visits clients at the destitution centre in Dalston once a month to entertain them with music and boost morale in the centre. She provides a sociable and relaxed atmosphere where clients can let their guard down and have fun. They have the opportunity to play music from their home countries and share their experiences. Ruth will use the Award to purchase an amplifier and microphone for the group so that there will be even more opportunities for clients to get involved in the sessions. She also wishes to attend a course in leadership skills for music, dealing particularly with refugees, which she hopes will further enhance the experience for her clients.

Playing Cricket – Staying Healthy; Study Skills for Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children; Sunday Lunch Club for Refugee Families; New Aspirants Project2: Small Steps Beyond Survivorhood

Children’s Section: Playing Cricket – Staying Healthy

This project will be attached to the Refugee Cricket Project which runs weekly sessions for separated children and young people, providing them with the opportunity to play cricket and also access support and advice in relation to immigration and welfare issues. The project is run throughout the year and last year was attended by 124 people. The project will provide personal cricket equipment, such as underwear, socks and boxes, which will improve the protection and the health and hygiene of participants at the Refugee Cricket Project, as there is a higher than normal risk of disease spreading among participants. Volunteers will identify the best suppliers for the kit and distribute it amongst participants, making sure that each person has their own equipment.

Study Skills for Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children

This project will enhance children’s learning as they attend educational activities and enable them to apply self-directed learning skills beyond these activities, both in school and at home. One of the key elements of the project will be teaching participants in the English language so that they are prepared for all educational activities they will partake in throughout their life. The content of the activities will be designed based on scientific evidence and the delivery will be based on children’s education principles. A translator will be present to facilitate the sessions more smoothly and sessions in four languages are currently being planned.

Resettlement Services: Sunday Lunch Club for Refugee Families

The initiative was started by volunteers, some of whom were Arabic speaking, who acquired the use of a premises and negotiated with refugee families in the area to encourage them to come together once a week to socialise with one another and cook and share food. Volunteers from the local community also attend the weekly events, one of whom is an Arabic speaker, to help the families integrate into the local community, and encourage them to share ideas about future events that they could coordinate together. It is hoped that the project, although already in place, can expand to cover a wide range of social activities for refugee and local families alike, such as sewing or gardening groups, and also more practical help which will help them assimilate into the community.

Destitution and Therapeutic Casework: New Aspirants Project2: Small Steps Beyond Survivorhood

The aim of this project is to build on the already successful New Aspirants Project 1, whereby young adult asylum seekers are assisted in their ‘transition’ to create a future for themselves in a country that is different from their birth. NAP 2 will focus more on peer mentoring and encouraging people to share their problems and express their emotions in a safe group environment. They hope to set up additional workshops within each session of the programme to test the model and if it is successful then it is hoped that the framework can be extended to other areas of the service. The NAP 2 Project will introduce Solution-Focus techniques to these young asylum seekers, and encourage them to aim for their dreams and aspirations to give themselves a better future.

Let’s Eat!, ESOL Teaching and Learning, New Beginnings, Mother and Toddler Group, Personal and Professional Development Workshops

Children’s Section: Let’s Eat!

This project teaches young people how to make simple meals, about food hygiene and health and safety, about nutrition and healthy eating and budgeting for food shopping over a six week course. It is aimed towards unaccompanied minors, especially those living in semi-independent accommodation who have to shop and cook for themselves.

Resettlement (Gateway Protection Programme): ESOL Teaching and Learning

This project aims to develop the quality of teaching already provided at the ESOL teaching sessions on a weekly basis and enhance learner outcomes. The Award was given to provide the volunteer teachers with teaching resources, visual aids and stationery for the students. The sessions gave students the opportunity to develop their English outside of the classroom while also learning more about the local culture and history in the area.

Therapeutic Services: New Beginnings, Mother and Toddler Group

This project enhances the existing Mother and Toddler Group by incorporating music as a healing and therapeutic element, complementing the already stimulating and supportive environment that it offers. Music and song provides another way in which mothers and children can interact and it greatly facilitates the language development of the children.

Integration Services: Personal and Professional Development Workshops

This project works to increase the employability of clients by providing them with the opportunity to develop their skills through a series of structured workshops. The workshop, ‘Managing the Recruitment Process’ helps clients to understand the recruitment process from the eyes of the recruiter, through activities such as designing job descriptions and conducting interviews.

Young People’s Discovery Arts, Refugee Women International Cuisine Project, The Writing Project, Employability Skills Development  

Children’s Section – Young People’s Discovery Arts 

This project focused on young unaccompanied migrants and engaged participants in all forms of art to help them explore their identity and the world around them. Visual art is a powerful way in which young people, and especially those who do not speak a lot of English, can express themselves. The activities focused on different art methods and techniques and was led by the interest of the young people taking part in the group.

Resettlement (Gateway Protection Programme) – Refugee Women International Cuisine Project 

A group of women who have accessed the Resettlement Services themselves set up a project based on sharing skills, experiences, and traditions based on cooking and baking, whilst learning about nutrition and health. The project aimed to empower women to run their own workshops and share and learn new skills based on healthy eating and cooking on a low budget.

Destitution or Therapeutic Casework Services – The Writing Project

This project brought together refugees and asylum seekers who wished to share their stories about their asylum and experience of life in a new country. The aim of the project was to put together a publication of short stories, poetry or plays and allow writers to channel any feelings of anxiety and isolation.

Integration Services – Employability Skills Development 

This project is run by a team of volunteers and provides advice and information for clients looking for employment in the UK. It helps them to learn more about the job process and develop the skills they need to secure employment. Workshops engage with topics such as job searching, understanding the application process, writing CVs and cover letters and developing interview skills. 

Express Yourself!, Hull Refugee Women’s Group,  New Aspirants Project, Getting to Know the Education System in the UK 

Children’s Section – Express Yourself! 

The Children’s section of the Refugee Council runs weekly social events for unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children. They have worked with Croydon Council who have offered a venue to deliver a youth led talent show for young people. The show offers workshops in areas such as photography, dance and poetry. The event provides a platform through which talented young people can be identified. Young people are involved at all stages of the event which encourages them to develop skills such as planning, organisation and working in a team.

Resettlement (Gateway Protection Programme) – Hull Refugee Women’s Group 

This group is made up of refugee women and volunteers who come together to carry out activities designed to help refugee women to build skills and confidence. The group carries out a range of activities, such as cooking, arts and crafts, dance and learning English. It offers a place where women with similar experiences can come together and create a supportive network.

Destitution or Therapeutic Casework Services – New Aspirants Project 

This project supports refugee young adults, helping them to develop their skills and career aspirations, whilst providing psychological support. It identifies the ambitions of young people and helps build upon their skills, such as art, music, or maths, to realise their potential. The project aims to recreate a family setting where young people are supported by mentors and can help each other.

Integration Services – Getting to Know the Education System in the UK 

This project runs a number of workshops on the education system in the UK for refugee parents with children of a school age. Delivered by volunteers, the programme offers information in areas such as how to search and apply for school places, the National Curriculum and core subjects, the examination system and how to help children with their homework.

Still Lives Photography Project, Life in Suffolk, Refugee Voices:

Still Lives Photography Project 
This project works with asylum seekers and their children living in the Stone Road Hostel in Birmingham, and others in the local community, to create a display that reflects the life and journey of an asylum seeker. The project uses still and moving photography images as well as oral testimonies. The photography project links into the creative and therapeutic activities organised by the Children’s Group, Women’s Group and Allotment Project.

Ken Windsor and Evariste Kanamugire from Life in Suffolk
The project provides support to asylum seekers and refugees in Suffolk, helping them to know more about the British way of life; about the history and customs of everyday life; and about Britain’s laws and the general do’s and don’ts they should look to follow. The aim of the project is to help provide an easier and smoother integration into a mixed and multicultural British society and to encourage greater acceptance of asylum seekers and refugees living in Suffolk.

Kimberly Thompson from Refugee Voices: A Collaborative Drama Workshop and Performance 
The project focuses on developing a series of client centred drama workshops around the long and difficult journeys of asylum seekers and refugees. The project culminated in a public performance giving voice to those so often made voiceless and rendered invisible. The project worked in partnership with Ice and Fire, a London based theatre group, with a long-track record working with asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

The Post Decision Form Filling Service, Stone Road Hostel Women’s Club, Leeds Women’s Group, New Roots Support Group

The Post Decision Form Filling Service

This project provides invaluable support to refugees who have been granted Leave to Remain. Experienced volunteer advisors offer assistance to complete post decision forms including Travel Documents, Citizenship Forms and Passport applications, which are complicated, time consuming and very expensive.

The work of the volunteers is crucial as they provide all the necessary documents that are sent to the Home Office and help them fill out the forms. They make phone calls to other organisations and the Home Office to gather required information

Stone Road Hostel Women’s Club

This project aims to improve the experience of women at the Stone Road hostel in Birmingham and provide them with knowledge that will help them and their families when they leave the hostel. The sessions are scheduled to be held weekly and revolve around healthcare, education, handicrafts, leisure and cultural activities. It will provide a forum for women and their children to meet and discuss, share experiences and be heard.

Leeds Women’s Group

The project provides a warm, welcoming, safe environment for women and their young children from refugee backgrounds. It helps build confidence in women, empower them and most of all to support their emotional and mental wellbeing. The women’s group is also a place women can make friends, share their culture, learn to enhance their English, be more aware on information sessions, learn and share skills, and participate in various activities and more.

New Roots Support Group

The Project aims to provide a safe and secure space for small groups of asylum seekers on a weekly basis, to come together and gather and develop skills, discuss their experiences and develop ways of dealing with traumatic experiences and hardships. They work with qualified volunteers in Art Therapy, Relaxation and Yoga techniques with therapeutic background.

Saideh Ghorishe from 'A Helping Hand’.

Saiedeh Ghorishe won the 2011 Marsh Refugee Volunteer Award for her project ‘A Helping Hand’.

The Purpose of this project is to provide sleeping bags for clients who are destitute/homeless and therefore cannot access mainstream accommodation, having to rely on donations, particularly during the cold winter months.

The project also provides warm winter clothes for clients at the Refugee Council One Stop Service centre in Leeds, including hats, gloves, scarves, socks etc.

In addition to this project, Saiedeh used the Award to provide toys for children to play with while in the waiting area of the One Stop Service in Leeds.

Boaz Atwine from 'Refugee Community First Aid'Project

Refugee Community First Aid Project

Boaz Atwine has helped to design a project to work with the British Red Cross (Community Based First Aid team) to train up volunteers to become First Aid Peer educators. They will then offer first aid sessions to local Refugee Community Organisations.

Research found that refugees and asylum seekers lacking language skills or adequate information may not be in a position to negotiate their entitlements to healthcare or may simply lack understanding about entitlements to healthcare. Therefore it is important that people living in these communities are equipped to deal with medical emergencies until help arrives.

Working with the British Red Cross, Boaz and other volunteers delivered first aid training to 10 volunteers so they become certified first aiders and gained the skills and confidence needed to pass information on to others.

Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley won the 2009 Marsh Refugee Volunteer Award for a Homework Club at Stone Road Hostel. Volunteers ran the cub and provided assistance to students with their homework. The club provided a suitable venue for study, with all necessary equipment, and ran on a regular basis.

New Arrivals Project

The New Arrivals Project aims to provide workshops for asylum seekers newly arrived in the UK. This involved a two-day induction and orientation workshop to enable clients to navigate local and general services in the UK.