Marsh Refugee Volunteer Award

This Award is run in partnership with the Refugee Council and recognises volunteer-led projects which provide services to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. The Award scheme originally rewarded four regional projects. However it has been restructured to recognise programmes in the areas of four core services the Refugee Council runs. These are:

•Resettlement Services - (Gateway Protection Programme)
•Destitution or Therapeutic Casework Services
•Children’s Section
•Integration Services

An Additional Refugee or Asylum Seeker Achievement Award has been added to the scheme, to recognise an outstanding individual linked to the Refugee Council for making a contribution to their community.

The 2017 winners are Irene Austin, Playing Cricket-Staying Healthy, Study Skills for Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children, Sunday Lunch Club for Refugee Families and New Aspirants Project 2

Marsh Refugee Volunteer of the Year - Irene Austin

Irene Austin won this Award for her outstanding volunteer support and her passionate belief that all Syrian refugees should receive quality English classes. Following the frustration of some clients who were struggling to find effective ESOL classes in their local area Irene, along with a number of other volunteers, began to run weekly ESOL classes at the Refugee Council offices. Irene has personally mentored new families in her area to help them improve their English using creative techniques, as well as supporting and training other Refugee Council volunteers to learn more English. Irene is passionate about social inclusion for refugee families and has set up a number of events and social groups to help them feel welcome.

The Award also recognises 4 projects run by volunteers:

Children’s Section: Playing Cricket – Staying Healthy

This project will be attached to the Refugee Cricket Project which runs weekly sessions for separated children and young people, providing them with the opportunity to play cricket and also access support and advice in relation to immigration and welfare issues. The project is run throughout the year and last year was attended by 124 people. The project will provide personal cricket equipment, such as underwear, socks and boxes, which will improve the protection and the health and hygiene of participants at the Refugee Cricket Project, as there is a higher than normal risk of disease spreading among participants. Volunteers will identify the best suppliers for the kit and distribute it amongst participants, making sure that each person has their own equipment.

Children’s Section: Study Skills for Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children

This project will enhance children’s learning as they attend educational activities and enable them to apply self-directed learning skills beyond these activities, both in school and at home. One of the key elements of the project will be teaching participants in the English language so that they are prepared for all educational activities they will partake in throughout their life. The content of the activities will be designed based on scientific evidence and the delivery will be based on children’s education principles. A translator will be present to facilitate the sessions more smoothly and sessions in four languages are currently being planned.

Resettlement Services: Sunday Lunch Club for Refugee Families

The initiative was started by volunteers, some of whom were Arabic speaking, who acquired the use of a premises and negotiated with refugee families in the area to encourage them to come together once a week to socialise with one another and cook and share food. Volunteers from the local community also attend the weekly events, one of whom is an Arabic speaker, to help the families integrate into the local community, and encourage them to share ideas about future events that they could coordinate together. It is hoped that the project, although already in place, can expand to cover a wide range of social activities for refugee and local families alike, such as sewing or gardening groups, and also more practical help which will help them assimilate into the community.

Therapeutic Services: New Aspirants Project2: Small Steps Beyond Survivorhood

The aim of this project is to build on the already successful New Aspirants Project 1, whereby young adult asylum seekers are assisted in their ‘transition’ to create a future for themselves in a country that is different from their birth. NAP 2 will focus more on peer mentoring and encouraging people to share their problems and express their emotions in a safe group environment. They hope to set up additional workshops within each session of the programme to test the model and if it is successful then it is hoped that the framework can be extended to other areas of the service. The NAP 2 Project will introduce Solution-Focus techniques to these young asylum seekers, and encourage them to aim for their dreams and aspirations to give themselves a better future.


The Refugee Council
P.O. Box 68614
E15 9DQ