The Jesuit Refugee Service UK (JRS UK) has a mission to accompany, serve as companions, and advocate for the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced individuals. We accompany those held indefinitely in immigration detention, and those who have been made destitute by the asylum system. Through accompaniment we walk alongside those we serve in the belief that encounter, mutual relationship and community are fundamental to human flourishing.

The Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic charity, present in around 50 countries worldwide, with a mission to accompany, serve as companions and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced individuals worldwide. The JRS mission is built on our faith in God who is present in human history, in its most tragic moments. We are inspired by this faith and by core values that inform all the work we do.

JRS UK works with two main groups of people: those currently detained indefinitely in the two Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) near Heathrow airport, and asylum seekers and refugees who find themselves forced into destitution by the process of seeking asylum in the UK.

Immigration detention can be a very confusing and desolate environment especially when individuals do not know how long they will be detained. In order to break this loneliness, JRS UK organises visitors to spend time with some of those in detention, offering the opportunity to share their stories, their worries and concerns, and their dreams. JRS UK also visits the Heathrow IRCs every Thursday to be present at the Welfare Office where those who are detained can stop by to seek help with various problems. JRS UK aims to help answer questions, offer accompaniment and liaise with other organisations to ensure that all individuals can reach the assistance they require. We also accompany those in detention through our prayer resource, ‘Praying with Detainees’, where, each month, we call to mind the names of those in detention who would like to be remembered in our prayers.

Due to a number of factors, many refugees in the UK cannot claim benefits or work. This leaves many individuals and families destitute, often for extended periods of time. Prolonged destitution can lead to significant physical hardship, isolation and anxiety. Through our weekly Day Centre, we are able to provide a warm and welcoming environment for destitute refugees that acts as a counterculture to much of the hostility they face elsewhere. Supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, our Day Centre offers practical support such as weekly travel grants, monthly toiletry packs, food parcels, clothing donations and a hot meal. Importantly the JRS UK Day Centre is a safe place for refugees to relax with friends and where there is always a listening ear. Alongside our Day Centre, we offer and range of activities and facilitated groups, such as a gospel choir, drama workshops and prayer groups. These activities help unearth and develop skills, encourage mutual sharing, help build relationships and are a source of resilience.

One of the biggest challenges facing refugees is being able to find safe and secure accommodation. Unable to rent, many depend on family and friends to put them up each night and many find themselves spending the night on night buses or sleeping on the street. Through our At Home hosting scheme, JRS UK organises short-term accommodation placements for refugees, providing a small amount of stability at an otherwise uncertain time. A roof over one’s head and the offer of friendship through being hosted can be transformative.

In order to volunteer at JRS UK we ask that individuals are able to commit for a time of 3 months in order for relationships between volunteers and those we work with to develop. None of the volunteering opportunities at JRS UK require a DBS check and we are only able to take on volunteers who are older than 18.

Detention Visitor

Our Detention visitors provide a warm and friendly presence at a time when many can feel isolated and alone. Our visitors spend one hour a week visiting individuals at the Immigration Removal Centres at Heathrow where they offer a listening ear and emotional support, helping to break down this isolation. Visitors organise weekly visits of 1 hour (plus travel time) with additional time for meetings, mentoring and training.

Hospitality Assistant

In order to keep the day to day activities of JRS UK running smoothly we depend on the help of volunteers to oversee a number of tasks. This role will be particularly focused on helping preparations for our weekly Day Centre held every Thursday. A Hospitality Assistant would be needed for at least one day a week to assist in task such as packing toiletry packs, assisting in deliveries, setting up and clearing lunch each day and helping to create a warm and welcoming environment for our refugee friends who visit the JRS UK offices each day.

At Home Host

Our At Home hosting scheme is a lifeline for many destitute refugees who find themselves sleeping on the streets. Our hosting placements are available due to families, communities and religious congregations opening their homes to one of our refugee friends. To be a host, individuals must be able to offer a room for a period of 3 months in Greater London.

For more information: https://www.jrsuk.net/at-home-hosting-scheme/

Other Volunteering Roles

At JRS UK we are always open to developing skills and talents of our refugee friends and our volunteers. If you have a specific skill which you would like to share with us and think could help the work of JRS UK then please get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

All of our volunteering roles are subject to availability. If you want to know what current volunteering roles are available please look on our website (https://www.jrsuk.net/volunteer/). If you’re interesting in volunteering with JRS UK please drop us an email indicating which area you are interested in. If volunteer opportunities are available, we will send you an application form to fill out and return. You will then be invited for an informal interview with one of our staff members.

Any questions? Feel free to email us and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you may have about volunteering with JRS UK.

( Roles as of April 2019)

Chef’s Assistant Volunteer

Every week, JRS UK’s Day Centre welcomes around 100 destitute refugees and asylum seekers into a space where everyone is known, cared for and greeted by name. It provides for essentials like a freshly cooked hot meal, packs of toiletries and hardship grants, as well as a listening ear and a place to catch up with friends.

JRS UK is looking for a Chef’s Assistant to volunteer at our weekly Day Centre. Alongside our volunteer Chef, the Chef Assistant will help to prepare and serve a healthy, hot meal to over 100 of our refugee friends who attend our Day Centre each week. The Chef’s Assistant will also help in cleaning the kitchen once the food is cooked and ensure the smooth running of the kitchen throughout the day.

If you’re interested in this volunteer role, please e-mail uk@jrs.net to request an application form.

Day Centre Volunteer: Vietnamese Speaker

Every Thursday JRS UK run a day centre where we welcome destitute refugees into a warm and friendly environment. Our Day Centre volunteers help in a number of ways throughout the day and ensure that our refugee friends are greeted by a friendly face and have a listening ear. For some of our refugee friends who do not yet speak English, even the simplest tasks can become daunting, and feelings of isolation and loneliness are often overwhelming.

For this reason, we are currently looking for volunteers who are available to accompany our Vietnamese-speaking friends who have recently been released from detention, supporting them while they are improving their English. In addition to helping with general tasks of the Thursday Day Centre, this role will include opportunities to spend time getting to know our refugee friends.

This role will require a regular commitment of a minimum of 3 months every Thursday, 09:45 – 16:00 at JRS UK’s Day Centre, The Hurtado Jesuit Centre.

If you’re interested in this volunteer role, please e-mail uk@jrs.net to request an application form.