We started 2017 off with an excellent networking event, bringing together around 40 individuals from more than twenty different organisations. Attendees included representation from the Local Authority, Swansea University and many charitable and third sector organisations from the city.
The event focused on volunteering, specifically how supporting organisations could best involve people seeking sanctuary as volunteers in their activities. There was also ample space for networking with a mix of informal and formal networking opportunities. We asked attendees to write down the three things they most value about Swansea City of Sanctuary, as this will help to formulate future activities. Here are some of the responses given:
Once the all-important lunch had been consumed, Co-Chairs, Amber Esther and Alan Thomas, opened the event, wishing everyone present a happy and safe New Year. We all introduced ourselves and then began to network.
Development Worker Eleri Williams then provided a brief presentation about the legalities of volunteering for asylum seekers and refugees, in line with the new Home Office guidelines, launched on January 12th. Eleri reiterated that any asylum seekers who undertake volunteering should inform their Home Office caseworker about their volunteer role and current volunteer activities. Once again, a distinction was made between “volunteering” and “voluntary work”.
Attendees were split into three groups to discuss various topics including: how organisations can develop inclusive volunteering practices, experiences and lessons learned by organisations involving asylum seeking volunteers, and finally, how volunteering has helped individuals to feel welcome in their new communities.
We hope attendees at the networking session found it useful, and we hope that more organisations develop inclusive volunteering practices to support and welcome people seeking sanctuary.