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uk volunteer network - new!

why are we needed in the uk?

Social Inclusion is essential in order for refugees to adjust to a new life here. A sense of belonging & feeling accepted is crucial for any human to thrive - and we are ALL human. This is what Calais Light is all about. We believe we can best help refugees by promoting social inclusion.

 

We recruit volunteers to work in community projects, including English language teaching and more. UK volunteers support refugees living in temporary accommodation, lending a helping hand to those who have survived the journey here - integration is a two-way street.

Once here, refugees must live on just £47.39 a week. Usually, they are not allowed to work, so they are absolutely desperate. They are given accommodation but that’s it!  Someone has to furnish material help – a bed, wardrobe or settee – clothes. 

In these circumstances, social inclusion is essential to wellbeing - whilst many refugees can speak English before they arrive in the UK, there are many who do not. Understanding the language is crucial for refugees to be able to navigate living in the UK. It is the single biggest obstacle some face when trying to integrate into our society.


With over 170,000 asylum seekers in the backlog & waiting on a decision from the Home Office, it could be years before many of these people are granted the right to live & work in the UK. In the meantime, they are in basic temporary accommodation without any idea about what may happen to them.

 

It is important to remember that people seeking asylum are vulnerable human-beings. 
Calais Light UK volunteers help by giving a few hours of their time each week to support the refugees whether teaching English, befriending, being supportive - all striving to show refugees in the UK that they are welcome here and help them integrate into their new communities & wider UK society.

Our 2023 plans

This year we launched a Calais Light UK Volunteer Network covering Kent, Essex, and part of London. We are working closely with several UK-based refugee charities, including RAMA (Refugee, Asylum Seeker, and Migrant Action) and we need many active UK volunteers, new & old, to step forward and help.

what we do?

UK Calais Lighters undertake everything from explaining documents to booking appointments to driving and sometimes, well just listening & befriending. We need proactive, committed, 'can-do' people who are both enthusiastic and sympathetic. The language barrier is a huge obstacle which prevents refugees settling into a new life & getting what they need - so being prepared to overcome that (Google Translate/ good humour) is vital. If this sounds like you, we'd love to hear more from you.

why now?

After travelling to Calais 20+ times in 7 years, it’s clear to us that we must also help the thousands of migrants who have arrived in the UK as well as the migrant population in N. France. In short, the need for volunteers has transferred to the UK.

successes so far

  • We've donated hijabs, furniture, bikes, helmets, school bags, even Christmas trees to 20 families in the Essex area

  • We have distributed brand new clothing and toiletries to residents in Essex and Kent as part of our #courtcommerce initiative

  • We have helped register refugees with doctors, taken them to appointments & assisted with getting teenage refugees into schools.

  • We have established befriending hubs; these run various activities including taking residents out for walks, helping them settle in the local area. We also work with them on gardening projects. The hub volunteers act as a welcoming and friendly ear.

  • We have introduced English language lessons 

  • We have helped enroll students into language courses at local colleges.

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