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16 Nov 2022

Celebrating RSD's Volunteers

Our Volunteers


Volunteers are the heartbeat of RSD. We would not exist without the generosity, energy and commitment of our volunteers. They play a vital role in all aspects of our work, including giving legal support to asylum seekers, nurturing our allotment to grow fruit and vegetables, teaching everyday English to speakers of other languages, helping clients to find jobs, organising fundraising and awareness raising events, promoting our social media presence, and of course, our trustees who provide strategic direction especially during this testing year. We’re extremely grateful to - and proud of - each and every one of them for their dedication.

“It's been a beyond wonderful experience getting to know some of the Syrian families and having the opportunity to support them, I'm very grateful to RSD for this chance - thank you.”
- RSD volunteer

A total of 189 people enquired to be volunteers during 2021 to 2022. This was a 120% increase from the previous year and it reflects the interest from the public ‘to do something concrete’ after the humanitarian emergencies in Afghanistan and Ukraine. We ran eight online volunteer training sessions. We had approximately 80 volunteers during this period.


Volunteer Reflections

“In February, we co-ordinated 70 recently arrived asylum seekers, who were temporarily housed in a Tiverton hotel by the Home Office for about four months. The local community response was immediate and encouraging. RSD played an important role in supporting them and worked with Mid Devon District Council, Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support (DCRS), local churches, the Exeter Mosque, CHAT (Tiverton foodbank), Plymouth Hope, the British Red Cross, and other charities and local community members. It helped overcome the fear many of the guests had of the British being cold and unwelcoming.

“Every Wednesday, the church hall in central Tiverton became a focal point for the asylum seekers. There were board games, table tennis, free drinks and food, donated clothes and other essentials, and even free haircuts. Most importantly, they met people outside the hotel to interact with – Google Translate became a vital tool! RSD and DCRS volunteers helped them complete essential paperwork. RSD also provided language classes in the hall and at the hotel.

“I volunteered at the church hall on numerous occasions. A little daunted at first, I took inspiration from people from diverse countries and cultures, who had escaped war, persecution or other trauma. They were also far from their families and were adapting to a very different world with little or no money and uncertain futures.

“I wish them luck in navigating our asylum system and trying to find some stability and security in their lives, whilst being moved around the country by the Home Office.”

- Cameron

*This story originally appeared in Refugee Support Devon Annual Review 2021-2022, which you can read here.

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