Refugee Support Devon offers the following services, each of which is carried out by our team of dedicated staff and volunteers:
Our general drop-in service is run by RSD’s drop-in coordinators, Kiven and Valentina, and provides practical support for refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented or otherwise vulnerable migrants on a wide range of issues, including help to communicate with other organisations, assistance to find legal representation and general help navigating life in the UK. Support is available as a one-off, or over a longer term. When support is required for complex or long term issues RSD will provide a personally tailored package that may include assistance on an outreach basis as well as through our office based services.
Kiven and Valentina are supported by a skilled team of volunteers and have strong links with other local and national services to ensure people can be signposted to the most appropriate agencies if RSD cannot help.
Open: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2pm to 4pm.
Supporting Asylum Seekers in Devon Hotels
In February 2022 the Home Office opened the first of Devon’s Initial Accommodation Hotels for asylum seekers in Tiverton. Other hotels subsequently opened in Torbay and Ilfracombe and at the beginning of 2023 two hotels opened near Exeter, one housing 70 single male asylum seekers, the other over 300 residents including 100 children and 170 women. In each case RSD took the lead in forming a coalition of local refugee support organisations, providing training, interpreting costs and SIM cards, and creating a 'toolkit' of resources to help partners implement an improved local support package. We are now funded by local authorities to provide two part-time outreach workers. The scale of the humanitarian crisis means that we cannot meet all of the needs presented but RSD continues to be at the forefront of support for all residents in asylum hotels in Devon.
This service is offered specifically to refugee families who have been relocated to Devon under government resettlement schemes, either as a result of the war in Syria or following events in Afghanistan in August 2021. Our resettlement coordinator, Souad, provides tailored packages of welcome and integration support, helping families settle into their new homes and familiarising them with their local area (shops, schools, bus routes etc.). Souad also offers assistance with a range of topics, including registering with doctors, dentists and education services, making benefit applications, understanding tenancy agreements, paying bills and navigating day-to-day life in the UK, supporting the families as they integrate into their new communities.
Appointments for home visits and office clinics by arrangement with Project Coordinators.
Immigration Advice Clinic
RSD has been accredited by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to provide advice relating to asylum & protection and immigration since 2018. Volunteer Tony is accredited at Level Two, and Senior Drop-in Coordinator Kiven and volunteers Alex and Suzy are accredited at Level One. Our immigration advice is offered free to asylum seekers and refugees living in Devon and, outside of Plymouth, RSD is the only organisation in the county which offers this service free of charge.
The team have also developed experience assisting people to apply for Exceptional Case Funding for Legal Aid, and can assist persons with No Recourse to Public Funds. With increasing networking with other immigration legal services RSD will help people to find legal advisors to represent them when Level 2 is not sufficient for a case.
This service is only available to refugees and asylum seekers living in Devon. Unfortunately it is not available for EU nationals or their family.
Opening Hours: Tuesday and Thursday mornings, by appointment. Please attend our drop-in for an initial consultation. if this is not possible e-mail email@example.com or call our office on 01392 682185 to make an initial enquiry.
Education & Employability
Developing English proficiency helps to increase opportunities for employment and integration into the local community. Our education and employability coordinators, Denise and Jen, coordinate a team of skilled volunteers to provide ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) tuition in classes and one-to-one. Volunteers also run a Book Club for learners who wish to improve their language by reading and discussing simplified books. RSD has joined with another voluntary group, Read Easy, to allow selected clients to develop their literacy skills by working individually with a tutor.
RSD is able to offer IELTS training for those wishing to access Higher Education and support learners through the UCAS application process, while also researching possible scholarship opportunities.
Links are also being developed with local services offering employment and work placement opportunities.
RAMP (Refugees As Medical Professionals)
Our RAMP project has grown from our existing Education and Employability work and is aimed at finding ways to help forced migrants who are qualified and registered health practitioners (doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists etc.) in their own country fast-track into their chosen fields in a cost-effective way to fill the many vacancies that currently exist locally in the NHS.
The pathway into work will generally involve a test (IELTS or OET) to prove the candidate’s level of English, followed by professional and clinical skills exams and perhaps a supervised internship. Project coordinators Denise and Anne currently offer language tutors to assist in the preparation for IELTS and we are lucky enough have a number of OET teachers, some of whom are retired doctors. In addition we also have retired doctors who are willing to act as mentors to support the long and intense preparation for the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board exams. The programme is still in developmental stages and we intend to respond proactively to feedback and input from the clients. We ran a successful pilot scheme in the summer of 2022 and are now running a second scheme for 11 healthcare professionals from four different countries.
- If you are a medically qualified refugee and you would like to join the RAMP project please click here for more information and a link to our referral form.
- If you are a qualified medical practitioner in the UK and you would like more information about current volunteering opportunities in our RAMP project please click here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
RSD’s Allotment is located near Exeter City Centre, with good local transport links and fine views across the city towards the Cathedral. It offers a safe, friendly and welcoming environment where refugees and asylum seekers can enjoy growing vegetables, fruits and flowers alongside RSD's team of allotment volunteers in a healthy, peaceful environment, and there is always the added bonus of being able to harvest and enjoy their own organically-grown produce. For some of our clients on low incomes this food can be crucial, and this project is of particular importance to those living in flats or properties without gardens. Any surplus produce is always distributed amongst those clients on low incomes or in hardship.
Our Women’s Group generally meets monthly, on a Saturday, and offers a chance for our female clients to get together in a fun, educational and relaxing atmosphere. A different activity is chosen by the group each month and these typically involve cooking, arts, music, exercise, excursions to local places of beauty or interest, and talks from invited speakers about issues relating to women and life in the UK. A crèche, with fully qualified child minders, is provided when funds permit, which gives mums a break and allows them to fully immerse themselves in the activities.
The women’s group provides opportunities for women to increase their social and support networks, make friends, combat loneliness and learn new skills. Souad coordinates a team of volunteers to make this happen each month, and once or twice a year an invite is extended to the women’s families for fun days, ‘men included’.
RSD runs events throughout the year to raise awareness and to raise much needed funds. Refugee Week in June (June 20th each year is World Refugee Day) is our main events period where we aim to facilitate a programme of exciting and varied events over a whole week throughout Devon. We encourage other organisations to join us and host events in their local communities too.
Throughout the year RSD aims to have a presence at many other events hosted by other organisations, such as Exeter Respect Festival, Exeter Pride, Holocaust Memorial Day, School Fetes and Church events, to name just a few. Check out our news and events page for information about upcoming events and reviews of those already happened.