If you’ve joined me for training around Volunteers and the Law in the last couple of years, you’ll possibly remember a discussion around where exactly Asylum Seekers are allowed to volunteer. You may remember me explaining the odd nature of the law – only in a charity, nothing public sector, no NHS. “But what about a children’s centre?” Some people asked. Or… “We’re a social enterprise?” And then my guarded response… weigh up the facts, and the risks for your organisation, and maybe think about disregarding these guidelines. Or at the very least signpost your volunteer somewhere else.
Well now you don’t have to pick your way through these decisions. After a huge amount of effort and public support – ‘ongoing badgering’ as Fiona Liddell puts it! by Refugee Action and others, Asylum Seekers now have the right to volunteer in any organisation. You can also volunteer if you have had your asylum claim refused. This is great news and evidence that campaigning works.
This was a few years ago now, and STILL the other day I was told – “Asylum seekers can’t volunteer can they?” YES! YES! YES!
This shift in legislation has helped at least stem the flow of ostracisation of those seeking refuge on our shores. It’s also been integral to the Stories and Supper initiative that I run. Volunteers of all backgrounds work together to make great experiences for diners and to challenge the barrage of negative narratives around migration. It is also a way for some of our asylum seeking partners to use their considerable skills while not allowed to work in this country. And some have been here for years… waiting for their lives to restart. (If you’d like to volunteer with these guys – email Helen! firstname.lastname@example.org )
Some slides from both Volunteers and Employment Law and the ‘Who Can Volunteer’ course are here – and give you a flavour of how interactive our one hour oline sessions can be. So if you have a burning question that an online search or colleagues aren’t able to help with – book on now!
VolunteersYeah – Things we Find Ourselves Saying as Volunteer Coordinators available now. Whether you have a small campaign, or a large project – tips and suggestions to make your life easier.