Thanks to volunteer Shali Bullough, Leicester City of Sanctuary has just been awarded £9,040 from the Lottery Fund for a welcoming project called Open Door. We hope that this project will run alongside our current Hello Leicester project.
The project is about developing a peer-to-peer befriending service for newly-dispersed asylum seekers attending our drop-in service over the first three weeks. The aim of the project is to train existing members (asylum seekers) who have previously benefited from our services and to enhance their skills. These members would then use their own experience to mentor new arrivals. Many of our members have been in Leicester for several years, speak more than 70 languages between them & understand and empathise with the challenges faced by new arrivals. These members will be invited to form a welcoming committee for new arrivals and will be provided with the necessary training to act as ‘buddies’.
Open Door will assign each new arrival with a designated ‘buddy’ who will meet with them over a 3 week period. The buddy will make the new user feel more at home and help them access the wide range of services available offered by ourselves and partner organisations in order to make the new user more integrated and independent.
The project will also involve providing our clients on the Open Door welcoming committee with the variety of skills and resources that they will need to run the project. The training will be run by a team of volunteers and will cover communication skills, boundaries, confidentiality, IT skills, administration, time management and record keeping.
Once the new arrivals have been integrated into the drop-in, we aim to move them onto the Hello Leicester project so that they can be more widely orientated to the city and more fully integrated into the local community. Hello Leicester includes raising awareness in community groups (e.g. a mother and toddler group or a football team) before introductions to help integration.
We ask any volunteers who feel they may be able to contribute to this training in the New Year to let us know so that we can start to draft out the course we will be offering.