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Volunteer with us

Volunteers are the backbone of our organisation. We always welcome new volunteers, anyone with a passion for helping those who have experienced immigration detention, and particularly those who speak other languages and those with personal experience of detention and migration.

About volunteering with us

Volunteers are the backbone of our organisation. We always welcome new volunteers, anyone with a passion for helping those who have experienced immigration detention, and particularly those who speak other languages and those with personal experience of detention and migration.

We are looking for people who are:
  • Compassionate
  • Empowering
  • Inclusive
  • Have Integrity
  • Kind
  • Respectful
  • Non-judgmental
  • Reliable
  • Empathic
  • Good listeners
  • Have clear boundaries
  • Resiliant
  • Have language skills

Volunteer with us

We have 5 key volunteering roles:
1
In-detention befriender
-
emotional support for those held in Yarl's Wood IRC
2
Drop-in volunteer -
helping run weekly drop-ins at Yarl's Wood IRC
3
Post-detention befriender
-
emotional support for those released from Yarl's Wood IRC
4
Casework volunteer
-
practical support and advice for those released from detention
5
Support volunteer -
variety of tasks available

Volunteer Roles

In-detention befriender

You will be matched with someone currently detained in Yarl's Wood IRC and we ask that you visit them once a week. Visits can be a lifeline for people in detention. Visiting is rewarding, and it can also be challenging, as being detained indefinitely has a detrimental effect on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. We therefore need people who are non-judgmental and empathic, with good listening skills, clear professional boundaries, and a good understanding of their own, and the role’s limitations.

We ask our volunteers to commit to visiting someone in Yarl’s Wood IRC weekly for as long as they are detained for, and to let us know if you are away on holiday, so that we can arrange alternative support. A key part of befriending is being reliable and consistent, at a time when those we are supporting have very little else that is reliable and consistent.

Drop-in volunteer

You will be part of a team that helps run our weekly drop-in sessions held at Yarl’s Wood IRC for the residents. Drop-ins run for 2 hours, and additional time is needed on arrival to set up. You would be setting up and running various activities, such as card games, board games or arts & craft activities. You would also be supporting people to complete clothing and mobile top up requests and giving time and space for them to talk about their situation and to offer emotional support.

Post-detention befriender

If you live in or near Bedfordshire and are interested in volunteering remotely, you could become a post-detention befriender. You can do this role on the telephone or online, supporting someone for a minimum of 6 months and up to 12 months after their release. This can be a difficult period as people move to another part of the country and may experience destitution or homelessness. Helping them through it is a rewarding role. As well as emotional support, you will provide information and make referrals to enable people to access the practical support they need, with housing, legal advice, and education. We  are not allowed to give advice in these areas, we offer a supported referral to the relevant agencies wherever the person is located.

Casework volunteer

As a casework volunteer, you would be based at our Bedford office and be helping those post detention with such matters as finding their nearest foodbank, GP surgery or Council services, signposting to other organisations that can help, finding them legal advice and so on. Casework volunteers are required to follow a set list of assigned task and actions for each person we are supporting; this can include regular emotional support and wellbeing calls.

Support volunteer

Support volunteers will be based at our Bedford office, helping with a variety of tasks and projects such as the administration of providing mobile top-ups and helping with clothes shopping or helping to complete surveys with the people we support.

Volunteer Training

Information sessions

We hold regular sessions when you can meet us and find out more about becoming a volunteer. This is the first step to becoming a volunteer with Beyond Detention.

View and register for our upcoming sessions here
“I became a befriender for two reasons: I wanted to make a difference in my community and I wanted to show people who come to the UK to seek a better life that there are many of us who welcome and support them. I’ve been a befriender for three years, visiting people in Yarl’s Wood before the pandemic and befriending over the phone when the centre was closed to visitors. I’ve visited and spoken to lots of different people and it’s always interesting to hear their stories. Some people have made difficult trips to get to the UK while some have lived here for many years.
 
It is sometimes hard being a befriender but always rewarding. People in detention often have no family in the UK and can feel isolated, scared and overwhelmed. The people I visit often tell me how grateful they are to have someone to talk to or how much better they feel after spending time with someone who really listens to them. It feels good to know that the small amount of time I contribute makes such a big difference.”
Frank, befriender

Volunteer Training

Information sessions

We hold regular sessions when you can meet us and find out more about becoming a volunteer. This is the first step to becoming a volunteer with Beyond Detention.

View and register for our upcoming sessions here

Becoming a volunteer

There are steps to become a Beyond Detention volunteer:

  • Attend an online Information Session

  • Complete an application form

  • Reference checks

  • Interview with a Coordinator

  • DBS checks

  • One-day induction training for all new volunteers

  • Sign our Volunteer Agreement

  • Read our Code of Conduct, Policies and Procedures

  • Accompanied visit/phone call or further training

  • Ongoing support and training

Information Sessions

Interested in what we do and volunteering for us? Please attend one of our Information Sessions to get more of an idea about what’s involved.
Before you can visit you will need to attend our bespoke training session, which covers why people are detained, the impact of being detained, cultural awareness, listening skills, boundaries and phone support. You will also be assigned a mentor. We offer further training to our volunteers throughout the year. Topics may include trauma-informed approaches, the new immigration policy and self-care and volunteer mental health.

Application form

Still interested? Please complete our volunteer application form. You will need the email address and telephone number of two people who have agreed to be your reference.If you want to chat about volunteering before completing the application form, then please call us on 01234 272090.

References and interview

One we’ve received your application form, we will contact your two references, and arrange a 45-minute interview with you – this can be online or in person.

DBS checks

If your interview is successful, we will then start the process of seeking a Disclosure and Barring checks (DBS) and invite you to our next one-day in-person induction training for new volunteers.

Induction training

The one-day in-person induction training covers why people are detained, the impact of being detained, cultural awareness, listening skills, boundaries and more. You will meet fellow new volunteers and our Coordinators.

Volunteer agreement

At the end of the training, we will ask you to sign our Volunteer Agreement.

Code of Conduct, Policies and Procedures

Before starting volunteering, we will ask that you read our Code of Conduct, and relevant Policies and Procedures.

Accompanied visit/phone call

Once you’ve attended the training, our Coordinators will arrange a follow up chat with you. If you are wanting to become a befriender, we will arrange an accompanied visit to Yarl’s Wood IRC with you, or a supervised befriending phone call if you are planning on doing post-detention befriending.

Ongoing support and training

As well as staff support from one of our Coordinators, you will also be assigned a volunteer mentor. We will offer you further training suitable to your role. We also have an annual conference in January, as well as other volunteer catch ups, socials, and ongoing training opportunities throughout the year.

Come work with us

Administrator

Find out more
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Beyond Detention is totally independent of the UK government, the Home Office and the management of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (YWIRC).