The work of Refugee Council volunteers was again recognised by the Marsh Refugee Volunteer Award. The award, sponsored by the Marsh Christian Trust, provides funding that allows volunteers to set up or improve projects or services that support refugees and asylum seekers in their local area. All of the projects are staffed and organised by volunteers at the Refugee Council.
This year’s national winner, receiving a cheque for £650, was Liz Maddocks who nominated Common Conversation. Common Conversation is a weekend drop-in for asylum seekers and refugees in West Yorkshire run entirely by volunteers. Many of the participants have little to do at weekends and Common Conversation provides a safe and welcoming environment where clients can mix with members of the host community and practice their English.
Volunteer English teachers provide small group and individual English tuition to clients and other volunteers organise other activities and prepare food. The funding from the Marsh Refugee Volunteer Awards will allow the project to provide learning resources for English classes and arrange trips into the local area so that refugees and asylum seekers can learn more about their local environment and can practice their English in different settings.
The other regional winners (each receiving £450) were:
International Cooking Project, Laura-Stella Enonchong
The project will bring together people from different backgrounds to cook different dishes from around the world, promoting understanding of different nationality and maintaining a link to clients’ home cultures. Volunteers will plan the menus with clients and then assist them to find suitable shops and markets to purchase the ingredients. Using a community kitchen, volunteers will then oversee the preparation of the food and will record details of the food produced with the aim of producing a book of recipes from refugee producing countries.
East of England
Weekend get-togethers for refugee and asylum seeking women and children, Laveena Shetty
Volunteers in the East of England already run a popular International Women’s group during the week. For some time clients have requested that the women’s group be able to meet at weekends as well, providing a relaxed environment where women and their children can socialise. The funding from the Marsh Refugee Volunteer Award will allow a venue to be hired every weekend and volunteers will organise activities and support the women who attend to take responsibility for the group so that they are less reliant on the Refugee Council.
Healthy eating for asylum seekers and refugees, Rachael Fernandes
Volunteers in the Refugee Council’s West London office, based in Hounslow, will work with the local Primary Care Trust to encourage clients and their families to maintain a healthy, balanced diet by providing information on basic nutrition and how to achieve this on a very small budget. A particular focus will be given to clients living on vouchers as part of their Section 4 support. Volunteers will accompany clients to local shops and markets to buy ingredients as cheaply as possible and then will provide support to the PCT staff who will provide a cookery demonstration at the end of which, everyone will eat together.
Yorkshire Evening Post: Award gives students plenty to talk about