All best wishes for a healthy and safe 2021.
As we enter the new national lockdown we have had to review how we operate some of our services once again. Face to face appointments will only be possible where help cannot be offered by telephone or video meeting.
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 casework coordinator, Neli, and provides practical support for refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented non-EU migrants on a wide range of issues, including help to communicate with other organisations, assistance to find legal representation, general help navigating living in the UK.
Neli is supported by a skilled team of volunteers and has 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. Due to Covid19, service is by appointment only until further notice. To book an appointment please contact us by phone or text 07498723345 – or send an email via our contact page. To comply with safety regulations please read our guidance here before you come to your appointment. Thank you.
Personally tailored packages of support are available through our outreach work. Volunteers, coordinated by any one of our Project Coordinators provide longer term support for those with more complex cases, and especially those who may have difficulty getting to our offices.
RSD volunteers live throughout Devon and are a valuable resource in facilitating participation in local facilities and services. They offer practical support through home visits, accompanying to appointments or activities, helping clients understand correspondence and how to pay their bills for example. By simply chatting to clients volunteers can help improve clients English language skills and confidence, decrease feelings of social isolation and help integration into new communities.
Outreach services may be arranged through the drop-in service or through telephone support.
This service is offered specifically to refugee families who have been relocated to Devon under the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). Our resettlement coordinators, Tameem and Souad, provide tailored packages of welcome and integration support commissioned by Devon County Council. Roles include meeting families at the airport, helping them settle into their new homes and offering assistance with a range of topics, including registering with doctors, dentists and education services, benefit applications, understanding tenancy agreements, paying bills, understanding UK life and customs and supporting integration into their new communities. This project aims to help families to become self-reliant over a supported period of 5 years.
Appointments for home visits and office clinics by arrangement with Project Coordinators.
Immigration Advice Clinic
Run by Neli, our casework coordinator, and three qualified volunteers, Tony, Alex and Susie, our immigration advice clinic is accredited by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to provide Level One Immigration advice relating to asylum & protection and immigration.
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 1 is not sufficient for a case.
This service is not available for EU nationals or their family.
Opening Hours: Thursdays, 12.30pm – 2.30pm, with further appointments by arrangement. Enquiries are also accepted through the Drop-in Service or by telephone.
Education & Employability:
Developing English proficiency helps to increase opportunities for employment and integration into the local community. Our education and employability coordinator, Denise, coordinates 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.
Our Women’s Network 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 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’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. This project is of great importance to those living in flats or properties without gardens.
Volunteers work alongside refugees in this 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 any surplus is always distributed amongst those clients on low incomes or in hardship.
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 and Community Fetes, Church events to name just a few. Check out our other pages for news of upcoming events and reviews of those already happened.