Lockdown has proved no barrier to recruiting new Swansea City of Sanctuary volunteers.
Swansea Council for Voluntary Service’s Volunteer Centre team and Swansea City of Sanctuary organised an online volunteer recruitment and information event in December, in partnership with staff and volunteers from several local organisations who support asylum seekers.
The aim was to recruit volunteers, both for the committee and working groups of Swansea City of Sanctuary itself, and also for the network of organisations across the city which provide support for asylum seekers and refugees.
‘As Swansea has had 10 years of proudly holding city of sanctuary status, we aimed to recruit volunteers for 10 different roles in different projects, run by different organisations across the city, all supporting asylum seekers,’ said the event’s organiser Julia Manser.
‘We sent out a Zoom link and a brief outline of the event to any people who had showed interested in the volunteering roles, which were advertised for a couple of weeks using the www.volunteering-wales.net platform.’ Eleven people attended the event, which included an awareness-raising quiz, plus information about all the amazing local volunteers.
‘We demonstrated the need for volunteers locally and shared the voices of people who have volunteered or have benefited from local volunteers,’ said Julia.
‘There was time for questions from those interested in volunteering, as well as a chance to chat and make useful links with others. After the event, the projects interested in recruiting more volunteers followed up those who’d attended, as well as others who’d expressed interest.’
Attendee Ibrahim Badawi, who has become a media volunteer for Swansea City of Sanctuary and Swansea Asylum Seeker Support after attending the event, said: ‘As a person who has been living in Swansea for more than two years, I felt it’s time for giving back to the community as it’s a human principle and a religious command. I used to search for volunteering opportunities online. Finally I found what I was looking for so I decided to take part in the event even if it was late for me.
‘I believe that volunteering gives you the opportunity to improve your knowledge about the local community and resident’s culture and the most important thing is the opportunity to make a small contribution by time and effort. I was really happy when I saw people I knew before at the event, but it was great to meet new friends in a comfortable atmosphere in such a well organised event.
‘I hope to continue working with both Swansea city of sanctuary team and SASS at the same time in order to deliver their fantastic message and spread their values in our community.’
As a result of the Zoom event, five people have joined City of Sanctuary itself either as a committee member or as a volunteer in one of the working groups. They come originally from Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Nigeria and Wales. Others have started volunteering in other organizations.
‘We normally expect at least a third of people we put in touch with projects to start volunteering,’ said Julia. ‘Sometimes life gets in the way of people starting, or projects find potential volunteers are not right for their need at that time. We’re delighted to have filled so many of the vacancies for volunteer roles and wish to thank everyone who is working so hard to make a difference in our wonderful City of Sanctuary!’
Are you interested in volunteering?
Swansea City of Sanctuary acts as an umbrella organisation promoting Swansea as a welcoming city for those seeking asylum. There are volunteer roles in several projects and organisations, of which the following were highlighted at the event:
- Swansea City of Sanctuary – committee roles, management, finance, media, community liaison.
- A Better Welcome to Swansea – mentoring and welcoming asylum seekers new to the city. Interpreters also needed.
- African Community Centre – drivers.
- Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) – homework club tutors.
- Swansea Bay Asylum Support (SASS) – English language support, digital connectivity, media.
For more information on volunteering or being a committee member with Swansea City of Sanctuary, please contact Kathryn on 07748 653317 / [email protected]; or if you would like to get involved in any of the other projects, or wish to find out more about volunteering in general, please contact SCVS Involve on 01792457299 / [email protected] or Hannah on 07496172896