Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit

Support our work

Our sanctuary projects owe much of their success to the involvement and dedication of our volunteers – change makers who apply themselves to making a positive difference to the lives of people with refugee backgrounds. Provision such as the Leicester City of Sanctuary ESOL classes and the RefugEAP programme would not be possible to run without committed volunteers, and projects such as Bright Path Futures may never have been launched without a phenomenal initial injection of time and energy by volunteers determined to meet an acute need.

Keen to showcase and celebrate a number of amazing volunteers from organisations who we are partnering with via our University of Sanctuary work, we hosted a 'Citizens of Change panel discussion - Journeys into volunteering and activism' as part of our Breaking Barriers Refugee Week 2022. Each panellist talked about their individual journeys into volunteering and activism, focusing on areas such as what inspired them to become involved in this work, what impact their work has had on their own lives and on others, and tips for how to ensure that work in this area makes a real difference … thereby inspiring others to get involved too.

If you are keen to volunteer with us or one of our partners, you can find a range of opportunities below. You might also wish to explore our curated selection of resources on the topic of refugees and working with refugees to support you in your volunteering journey. These include MOOCs, articles and blogs, podcasts and interviews, and useful websites. If you are a University staff member on a permanent or fixed-term contract, it is also worth looking at the Leicester Staff Volunteering Policy and Procedure (search for ‘staff volunteering’ on SharePoint), as some release time can be made available for volunteering activities.


Volunteer with us

Teaching academic English (formal)

If you are a qualified ESOL teacher with experience of teaching academic English, you might be interested in volunteering to teach on our new online RefugEAP programme for refugee-background students who need to improve their academic English but are unable to access regular classes.

Email Aleks Palanac at to enquire about this role.

Joining a Leicester student society

If you are a current University of Leicester student, you can join a student society that supports people affected by conflict and persecution. These currently include Student Action for Refugees (STAR), Amnesty International, Friends of MSF, Oxfam, the Palestine Society and the Pro Bono Group.

Support those impacted by the Ukraine conflict

Get involved in our Ukraine support initiatives, whether that be by offering to host one or more people, welcoming new arrivals or fundraising. To find out more, please contact

Amongst the fundraising initiatives we support are Knighton to Ukraine, who have been sending tens of thousands of pounds of food supplies into Ukraine to help those in bomb shelters, and others whose access to food has dried up. They are also partnering with and supporting a Ukrainian refugee centre who have around 150 refugees staying with them – sending them around £1,500 to £2,000 per month to help with their running costs. The link to this refugee centre and the fundraising was set up by a member of the University finance team who visited the refugee centre over Easter and has been supporting them since.

Donate now.

Becoming a Champion or Supporter

If you are a University of Leicester staff member, we invite you to become a Champion or Supporter of Leicester University of Sanctuary and help us promote the ideals we wish to implement across the University and beyond.

Complete our sign up form (docx., 16kb) and send it to, and we will then sign you up to our mailing list.

Volunteer with our partners

Fundraising for Bright Path Futures

Support this innovative, award-winning Afghan-led well-being project which helps Afghan families resettled into UK hotels with their literacy, language and cultural integration needs in a way which facilitates well-being. Donations can be made via the BPF crowdfunding page.

Learn more about the initiative.

Teaching English (informal)

If you have experience of teaching English, you might like to join our team of teachers offering Leicester City of Sanctuary ESOL classes, both face-to-face and online.

Contact one of our ESOL co-ordinators Julie Umarova at to enquire about this role.

Donating / refurbishing / distributing digital devices

Donate your old device to our partner charity Screen Share to support refugee-background students who are digitally excluded from education. If you don’t have a device to donate, you could start asking friends / family / classmates / colleagues for theirs, or even contact businesses and organisations asking them for donations. Alternatively, you could join their teams of techies or runners across the UK.

Helping to find evidence to support asylum cases

Join the New Evidence Search Team, which is a voluntary group of researchers affiliated to Leicester City of Sanctuary which tries to help asylum seekers put together a convincing account of what happened to them and search for credible evidence. 

Supporting young people

Share your skills with a young person by volunteering with our local partner charity After 18, which works to support young refugees transition to adulthood by providing specialist information, emotional and practical support and a wide range of educational and social activities.

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