About Being a Volunteer

Volunteer can usually design their own job, depending on their interests, skills and experiences.  Technical skills, while useful, are not that terribly important for a frontline volunteer. It’s very important to bring a caring and respectful approach to this work. Residents have frequently come from a very traumatized background in their home country and while travelling. Patience and persistence are a must. Counselling skills are very valuable. You may be exposed to some very difficult stories. Be careful of your own mental health. Ask other volunteers for help when you need it.

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The working language on site is English.

Most people will have a basic understanding of spoken English but their abilities to read and write English are likely to be  limited.

Other languages include French, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Russian. The languages spoken tend to change as the population of the site changes.

Young people on site tend to speak up to four languages fluently.

Be careful about using ‘unofficial’ interpreters for anything that could be confidential.

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We get things wrong all the time! But if you deal patiently and respectfully with people they will forgive you almost anything.

If you are male, don’t offer to shake hands with a Muslim woman.

Remember to include male family members in discussions.

Be aware of the language, gender and religious composition of any groups you work with.

 

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It all depends!

Some people are very open to meeting people outside the site and taking part in social and educational activities.

Others, mainly because of language and cultural constraints, are very fearful of the world outside the gates. These people are generally the ones in most need of support.

You can offer but don’t be disappointed if your first offer is refused.

Be persistent and respectful.

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