Restore - befriending refugees

by Restore - welcoming, befriending and integrating refugees in Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom


raised so far

+ est. £1132.50 Gift Aid



One-to-one befriending combats the isolation and loneliness refugees experience, builds community and helps with integration.

by Restore - welcoming, befriending and integrating refugees in Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Finding funding for work with refugees and asylum seekers is an ongoing challenge and that has been harder in the pandemic.  We are always looking for additional funding to support Restore's work and implement our vision.

Restore's story so far....

Restore's vision is for a society into which all refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed, valued and integrated. One of the ways Restore works towards that is by building relationships and equipping for integration through befriending and group social activities. 

One befriended asylum seeker wrote, "Restore paired me up with a befriender who actually changed my life.   Having someone to talk to was a big problem to me until I met my befriender who came and took that burden away.   She is very kind hearted, is always ready to listen to me and has helped me to regain my self-confidence."

Refugees and asylum seekers have fled persecution in their home countries and need sanctuary in the UK.  They also need to experience welcome and help with integration into their new community

Restore has successfully facilitated a befriending service for over 20 years.  We currently have 108 befriending volunteers matched to 129 refugees and asylum seekers from 23 different countries including Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan and Eritrea.  

At the heart of Restore's relationship-building work is our one-to-one befriending scheme where we match a trained, DBS checked volunteer to a refugee or asylum seeker.  Befrienders offer welcome, friendship, listening skills, help with conversational English, signposting to other services and orientation to life in Birmingham.  

There is an on-going need for Restore's befriending service as new asylum seekers continue to arrive in Birmingham and resettled refugees are arriving from Afghanistan.  Despite coming to the UK to seek sanctuary from persecution, refugees face ongoing hostility and suffer through isolation, poor mental health and fear. Restore offers welcome that is counter-cultural, and helps with integration so refugees can become contributing members in their new community. They are also from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

At lockdown, Restore quickly adapted our face-to-face befriending service to a remote befriending service using WhatsApp video calls, to combat the isolation and loneliness of social distancing. This also enabled volunteers to take on additional befriendees remotely.  As Government guidelines changed and easing was permitted, we've moved back to face-to-face befriending and restarted group social activities.  As we have more service users than volunteers, we run a range of group social activities to combat isolation and loneliness, build community and introduce refugees and asylum seeker to a range of local places and activities like parks, museums, art galleries, concerts and the countryside. 

A key output is our target of 50 new befriending matches annually.  In 2020, we made 67 new matches

The outcomes we aim for are:

increased friendships and social connections with people from Birmingham and other refugees;

improved communication skills in English, particularly conversational English;

increased intercultural competence through greater understanding of and adaptation to life in the UK; and reduced loneliness and social isolation.

There is also an impact on well-being and mental health

Befriending also has an impact on volunteers, one wrote, “Knowing my befriendee has enriched my experience of others and given me a better insight into our common humanity. When it comes down to it, people are basically the same wherever they come from. I’m lost in admiration for how my befriendee and his family have coped in a new country with an alien culture." 

Restore needs funding to deliver our befriending service.  Core costs cover staff salaries (3 full-time and 2 part-time - which is a small team compared with the over 100 volunteers we support), training courses, hospitality for meeting refugees and asylum seekers, group social activities, costs of office rental, administration, insurance etc. 

Restore is a project of Birmingham Churches Together and supports refugees and asylum seekers from any faith or none and welcomes volunteers from any faith or none.

We are extremely grateful for every donation that helps us to welcome, value and integrate refugees and asylum seekers.

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