Volunteer refugee befrienders and community hosts needed


Birmingham Community Hosting Network (BIRCH) are looking for volunteers to join our family befriending project for young refugees aged 16-25 years old and for hosts to accommodate asylum seekers facing homelessness in Birmingham and surrounding areas. We have upcoming training for anyone interested on Sat 16th March.

Family Befriending and Hosting training:

When: Sat 16th March 2019
Where: Friends of the Earth, The Warehouse, 54-57 Allison Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5TH
Time: 9.45-16.00

This training is aimed at anyone who might be interested in finding out more about BIRCH's Family Befriending and Hosting projects and are thinking about volunteering for one of the projects.

The plan for the day is as follows:

Morning - tea/coffee etc Introductions, ice-breakers, hopes and fears, background to BIRCH's activities

Mid-morning: background information on where do refugees come from, the asylum process, key terms/jargon, what is destitution, and cultural awareness sessions.

Lunch - buffet lunch will be provided

Afternoon - Q & A with current BIRCH befriender/host
Discussion about the needs of refugees, expectations and qualities we look for in volunteers, boundaries and guidance.
Revisit hopes and fears and final questions.

If you would like to attend, please email: helen[at]birchnetwork[dot]org or call 07709645097

Refugee Family Befriending Project

Are you passionate about migrants' rights? Are you happy to welcome a young refugee to your home in Birmingham and help to reduce isolation?

BIRCH - Birmingham Community Hosting Network is a volunteer-led charity working to harness the enthusiasm of local people to offer friendship and hospitality to people seeking sanctuary in the Birmingham area.

Our Family Befriending Project matches young refugees (aged 16-25) with volunteer families/individuals who offer to share a weekly or fortnightly meal with them on a regular basis. The young refugees who benefit from this project have all come to the UK alone without their families and the majority are care leavers. They benefit from being welcomed into a family environment and feel better supported and less isolated. The host family does not intend to replace a young person’s birth family but will go some way to meeting some of the emotional needs families usually fulfil, helping young people to feel that they are cared about.


Many who have hosted asylum seekers consider it to have been one of the most rewarding times of their lives. However each person (host as well as guest!) is different, as are the experiences they have lived through and the circumstances they are currently facing.

What is involved?

To be a BIRCH host an individual or household will need to have, as a minimum, a spare room with a bed and bedding and the capacity to provide food towards the guest’s daily needs. Guests will be able to obtain some of their own food in the form of food parcels provided by local charities, but are likely to need to share daily basics such as tea, coffee, bread etc. From time to time BIRCH has funding to provide expenses to volunteers who require financial support to host. We ask that hosts commit to at least two week placements as a minimum, as any shorter than this is rarely of use. The maximum placement is generally a year, although we have short-term, mid-term and long-term hosts within the network, and where necessary will provide several consecutive placements to guests whilst working with them to find a long term solution to their destitution.

For more information about befriending or hosting, please visit: birch network.org or contact Helen at helen@birch network.org or David david@birch network.org or come to our next training session.