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.

And, last but not least, volunteering is a great way for sanctuary seekers to connect with others, share and develop skills, practice using English, make new friends, support local communities, gain in confidence, and much, much more! If you are an organisation which can offer volunteering opportunities for sanctuary seekers, and you would like us to feature these on this page, please contact us by emailing

Please click on the section headings below to find out more about volunteering opportunities with us, with our partners, and opportunities specifically suitable for people with lived experience of seeking sanctuary.


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. Please see the role description (docx., 118kb) (which includes application details).

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. You can contact one of our ESOL co-ordinators Julie Umarova ( 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.

Supporting 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 or donating to support a refugee centre in Ukraine. To find out more, please contact

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. Information about how to sign up for this will be available here shortly.

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.


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 in Leicester

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.

Supporting people seeking sanctuary in Leicester

Local charity Leicester City of Sanctuary is always looking for volunteers to help with the running of the charity and to provide various types of support for local people seeking sanctuary, whether that be through becoming a trustee, running a group, or coming along to the weekly drop-in to help with preparing and serving food. Please visit their webpage for more information and for current volunteering opportunities.

Providing 1:1 online IELTS or OET tutoring

Our partner charity RefuAid is accepting applications from English language teachers who can offer 1:1 IELTS or OET exam tuition online. If you have experience teaching either exam and can commit a minimum of 2 hours per week, please sign up via their website.




Volunteering opportunities for sanctuary seekers

Sharing your language skills 

Languages at Leicester is regularly looking for Language Volunteers to assist tutors and support students. If you are a fluent speaker of Arabic, British Sign Language, Mandarin Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek (Ancient or Modern), Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish this could be an ideal volunteering opportunity for you

Helping out at one of Leicester’s museums 

There are many different opportunities to volunteer with Leicester’s museums, including being a tour guide, helping in the archives, or even doing a spot of gardening. A full list of current opportunities can be found on the Volunteer at Leicester Museums and Galleries web page

Supporting other refugees in Leicester

The British Red Cross Refugee Support Service in Leicester  is often looking for volunteers. These volunteers help refugees and people seeking asylum through a range of services, and interpreter volunteers provide support in over 200 languages. From emergency help or getting people essentials, to supporting with case work or reuniting families, these volunteers help people find safety and rebuild their lives. These roles are well suited for a range of people, especially those who are refugees or asylum seekers themselves. You can meet some of their inspiring volunteers by watching this video. For up-to-date information about current volunteer opportunities and/or to apply for a role, please visit the BRC Volunteer Opportunity website and/or get in touch via or 01164790900

Helping out at our Sanctuary Summer School

If you are a current or previous University of Leicester sanctuary student and would like to share your experiences with future students or perhaps join us for a tour around campus or a social activity, you would be most welcome to come along to one or more of the sessions at our Sanctuary Summer School. Please contact to express your interest and find out more

Volunteering in a community cafe

Gain skills and experience working on the Karibuni Cafe in Highfields Community Centre in Leicester. This cafe is run by The Race Equality Centre (TREC), and aims to bring people together from the local community by providing hearty yet affordable meals. To find out more, use this contact us form to get in touch.

Helping out in hospitals

A range of non-clinical voluntary roles are available in hospitals in and around Leicester. You can find out more about available roles on the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland hospitals work experience web pages. If you have any queries, contact

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