Written in consultation with Friendship Group Volunteers
Purpose of the document
This document contains the agreed ways of working with BRWR refugee families. These apply to those who work as part of the BRWR Friendship Group, BRWR Committee Members who visit refugee families and any other BRWR Volunteers who offer lifts to refugee family members.
Purpose of the Friendship Group
The Friendship Group is part of the Community Group known as Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcomes Refugees (BRWR). The purpose of the group is to support refugee families while they settle into their new environment in the UK. Support will differ from family to family as needs will vary widely and also change over time. The aim of BRWR is to support each family in becoming independent in their ability to thrive within their new setting.
Principles of the Friendship Group
Friendship Group Volunteers must all have Enhanced DBS checks registered by BRWR before they begin to work with Refugee families. These can be obtained at a favourable rate from BARN located in Redditch.
Details of a refugee family should only be revealed on a need to know basis and only within the community group BRWR. All Volunteers need to be aware that refugee families could be vulnerable and must be mindful that details about families should not be openly discussed or addresses revealed. Photographs should be avoided and should not be shared. This is also a consideration when sending emails and if making any computer based records. Careful thought should be given as to whether names, addresses and any details of circumstances should be used. In any case it is strongly recommended that only initials are used rather than names.
Volunteers who act as Key Friends should expect to be kept informed regarding the progress of their Refugee family. However they might not be a party to the reasons for certain actions taken in terms of material or financial help. The view of BRWR is that Refugee families come with very different immediate needs and disadvantages so it might not always be fair to treat all families in the same way. The family might not wish their Key friend to know why they have a particular need and their privacy in this matter should be respected.
Families will choose whether to engage with BRWR and may end the relationship at any time. Before beginning befriending, the work of BRWR should be explained to a refugee family by an interpreter. If a refugee family wishes to benefit from the support BRWR has to offer, then a profile sheet should be completed with them through an interpreter by the Friendship Lead. This should detail as much as the family wish to share with BRWR, including immediate needs.
Refugee families need to be aware that BRWR resources are not exhaustive. Some requests for help be it material, practical, transport or financial will not be possible. No volunteer or committee member should make promises to Refugee families regarding BRWR’s ability to provide.
In communicating with refugee families it is possible to use translation software. Volunteers should not ask other refugees to interpret for another family on matters of a confidential nature. Arabic classes are available free of charge through BRWR and volunteers who visit refugee families are encouraged to attend. Volunteer interpreters are available to assist volunteers through BRWR. The use of translation software and interpreters should help to reduce potential inequalities between families who do and those who do not as yet speak English at a functional level.
Friendship Group Lead
The Friendship Group Lead has a place on the BRWR Committee. They are responsible for co-ordinating the Friendship Group. The rights and obligations of the Friendship group Lead are detailed below.
- Arranging to visit a new refugee family with an interpreter intending to gather information regarding the family in the form of a profile record.
- Providing each family with a large page per day diary to be used by BRWR Volunteers with the refugee family being invited to add their comments regarding BRWR in the diary. There should be a page at the front or back with columns drawn for requests: date requested, nature of request, person responsible for the request, date request fulfilled.
- Visiting each family regularly to ensure they are content to continue to receive visits from Volunteers and to view the diary and take note of any requests fulfilled or outstanding.
- Keeping a running record for each family noting requests fulfilled or pending plus any other notable events not recorded in a refugee family’s diary.
- Organising interpreters for Refugee families / volunteers who request such support.
- Making a request to the BRWR Committee for exceptional financial help. Full details in writing to be submitted to the Chair/Vice Chair.
- Hand new BRWR volunteers the training pack including to include the Friendship Strategy Statement.
- Checking each prospective Friendship Volunteer’s DBS, completing the checklist pro forma and sending a copy of the pro forma to BRWR’s secretary for registration.
- Collecting a profile sheet from each prospective volunteer to include name, address, contact details and personal information to help with matching with refugee families.
- Conducting an induction briefing for new volunteers before they meet any refugee families.
- Cautioning volunteers that if they wish to give lifts, they must ensure that their insurance covers such activities.
- Pairing new volunteers with established volunteers for an induction period to establish their suitability and commitment.
- Allocating a Key Friend to each family and sharing details of the family’s profile record with them.
- Holding regular meetings of the friendship group to provide volunteers with information, support and supervision.
- Checking and signing Volunteer expenses claimed in accordance with the finance policy rules. Forwarding expenses claims to the Treasurer.
- Ensure that a new volunteer’s details are passed for inclusion in the ‘BRWR active volunteer booklet of information’.
- Distribute the ‘BRWR active volunteer booklet of information’ to the new volunteer.
- Responding to requests for lifts only where there is little alternative and with regard to the principle of developing independence.
- Sending out an email to all volunteers who have offered lifts. The destination and timings should be given but not the name of the refugee family member(s) or their precise address. Detailed information can be passed in a private email or telephone conversation once a driver has been identified.
- Recording the details of the lift on the refugee family’s running record including the name of the Volunteer undertaking the task.
- Dealing with situations where a disclosure has been made, or an incident which has caused a Volunteer to become suspicious of a refugee family member or another Volunteer.
- Communication in this respect should be by telephone or in person (not written electronic means such as text/email).
- A safeguarding form should be completed in paper form and handed to the BRWR Chair/Vice Chair who will decide how to proceed in the light of this information and in accordance with safeguarding principles.
- Assure the Volunteer that the situation is being properly addressed even though might not be permitted to give full details.
- Feeding back the activities of the Friendship Group at quarterly committee meetings.
- Should expect support from committee group members and executive concerning the running of the Friendship group, safeguarding and complaints.
Friendship Group Volunteers
The rights and obligations of BRWR Friendship volunteers and committee members who visit Refugee families are as detailed below.
Getting ready to volunteer for BRWR:
- Become familiar with BRWR’s training pack obtained from the Friendship Lead.
- Obtain an Enhanced DBS and have it registered with BRWR before beginning to visit refugee families. The fee for the DBS may be reclaimed upon commencing Volunteer duties by filling out an expenses form available from the Friendship lead and presenting the form with receipt for the fee paid.
- Filling out a profile sheet detailing name, address, contact details and some personal information to aid matching with Refugee families.
- Attend an induction briefing with the Friendship lead before visiting Refugee families.
- Receive ‘BRWR active volunteer booklet of information’.
New Friendship group Volunteers:
- Visit refugee families with an established Volunteer identified by the Friendship lead for at least four visits. This is to gain confidence and ensure they feel equal to the task.
- Can be considered for the position of Key Friend if they so wish. They will be deemed qualified by their life experience and ability to advocate for and help refugee families in a kind, considerate and friendly way. They should not be afraid to seek support from the Friendship Group or wider BRWR volunteer group.
Friendship Group Volunteers and Visiting Committee members:
- Should fill out the diary on each visit detailing date/time/length of visit and main purpose (without breaking confidentiality and bearing in mind that Refugee families have full access to diaries as they are kept in their home).
- Keep the Refugee family’s Key Friend and the Friendship group Lead informed about matters that have not been noted in the Refugee Family’s diary.
- Fill out the page in the Refugee family’s diary detailing any requests made by them. If the request is fulfilled a date can be places in the end column to indicate completion.
- Make requests for assistance to Janet King our Friendship Lead: Janeteking110@gmail.com
- Tell Refugee families as soon as possible if a request for help cannot be met.
- Should not make promises to Refugee families about the ability of BRWR to provide help as resources are not exhaustive.
- Should not provide child minding/babysitting services to refugee families.
- Attend regular Friendship group meetings to obtain peer support and advice and inform the Friendship Group Lead of Refugee family’s progress.
- Need to be aware that expenses can only be claimed for activities commissioned by the Friendship Lead or other members of the BRWR Committee. In the case of Friendship volunteers this is most likely to be for lifts requested by the Friendship lead.
Additional obligations of Key Friends:
- Visit one Refugee family and take the lead in BRWR’s commitment to them.
- Visit at least weekly themselves or organise for another Volunteer to visit.
- Should expect to be kept informed, without breaking any confidences, about BRWR involvement with their Refugee family, including the contents of their profile sheet as compiled by the Friendship lead.
- Volunteers must have established from their Car Insurance Company that they are covered for giving lifts by explaining the volunteer work they intend to engage in. BRWR cannot be responsible for any motoring offences committed or parking fines incurred while undertaking voluntary work
- Should have an Enhanced DBS registered with BRWR before starting to offer lifts.
- Should not give lifts to minors (under 18 years) alone. Another adult must attend. Either another BRWR Volunteer with a registered Enhanced DBS or a parent of the minor.
- When they receiving an email with a brief outline of the transport task request; if they can provide the lift the Volunteer should ‘reply to all’ so all others know that the task has been allocated. The Friendship lead will then contact the Volunteer to give full details of the task.
- If a volunteers ability to provide the lift changes all efforts must be made to inform the Refugee family member concerned as soon as possible. The Friendship Lead should also be informed so an attempt to find another Volunteer might be made.
- Expenses are payable by BRWR for petrol cost and parking. Mileage is payable at the prescribed rate in BRWR finance policy. BRWR recognise that receipts are not always available for parking costs but should be obtained if possible. An expenses claim form can be obtained from the Friendship Lead. The mileage covered in the journey should be used to calculate the amount payable. The Friendship Lead is charged with determining whether, given the length of journey, the claim is proportionate. Volunteers as asked to be a prudent as possible when choosing parking places to keep BRWR costs as low as possible.
- If a Volunteer becomes suspicious or worried in any way about the physical, mental or emotional wellbeing of a family member; by the conduct of a refugee family member or by the conduct of another volunteer. In that case they should speak to the Friendship group lead who will pass on any concerns to the Chair/Vice Chair. If suspicions are about any of the aforementioned Lead Officers then the Volunteer should approach any member of the BRWR Committee for help and advice. This will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
- A volunteer might then be asked to fill out a safeguarding form which will be passed to the Chair/Vice Chair for them to determine what
- Action to take. The form will be kept permanently in the Chair’s confidential Safeguarding file to inform in the future if a further incident is reported about the same person.
- The Volunteer might not be told how their information is acted upon due to Refugee family confidentiality.
- Any BRWR Volunteer who believes that BRWR has acted unfairly towards a Refugee family or with any other complaint should in the first instance speak to the Friendship Lead. The Chair/Vice Chair should be contacted if their complaint is about the Friendship Lead.
- Are asked to keep the diary provided by BRWR in their home for use by BRWR volunteers and themselves in connection with BRWR activities and requests.
- Are asked to return diaries to BRWR Friendship lead for their safekeeping when full or when the relationship with BRWR ends.
- Are asked to be mindful of the limitations of BRWR volunteers and funds.
- Are asked to be mindful of safeguarding the interests of their family and the volunteer when interacting with BRWR volunteers.
- Refugee families should ensure that volunteers are not left alone with children under 18 years.