New Refugee Mentoring Initiative

Today, the 4th November, TimeBank, the national volunteering charity launches a new refugee mentoring initiative ‘Time Together’.

The initiative will pilot in London, Birmingham and Glasgow and local residents are being asked to give their time by becoming volunteer mentors and coaches. The scheme has two clear aims:

  • to help refugees integrate in their new community
  • to create ambassadors for refugees in UK communities

TimeBank hopes this initiative will begin to challenge some negative perceptions of refugees, such as, they are all uneducated and they’re a financial burden to the UK taxpayer. Refugees bring with them a wealth of skills and experience that are currently being wasted. Research conducted by The National Institute of Adults Continuing Education revealed

  • 85% held qualifications, from school certificates to higher and professional qualifications.

and according to a recent Home Office study, migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees

In 1999-2000, migrants in the UK made a net fiscal contribution of approximately £2.5 billion, worth 1p on income tax.
Guy Mumonguy came to the UK from the Congo in 1988 where he was a qualified journalist in radio, TV and print media. He left the Congo in 1998 for the Cote d’Ivoire after he had been arrested twice and tortured. Once in Cote d’Ivoire, he was attacked and beaten nearly to death by agents of the National Information Agency of Congo in Cote d’ Ivoire because of the sympathy between the regimes of the two countries. Helped by a local family, he took the first plane to Europe that he could – which brought him to London.

He sought asylum for 12 months and was granted Exceptional Leave to Remain in 2000. He still hopes to return to the Congo if his safety could be assured and in the meantime is volunteering for the Medical Foundation and for the Lewisham Law Centre. He feels that volunteering adds valuable experience to his CV, and gives him the opportunity to meet different people.

Guy believes “the Time Together scheme will open a range of possibilities for refugees as mentees. These may involve gaining work experience or jobs or job contacts; but I believe that as important, is that refugees take the time to get to know members of their host community – however difficult it is to meet them.”

In the most practical sense, mentors and coaches will help newcomers adjust to their local community, show them how to register at the local doctors surgery or understand the local transport network. Through this exchange of knowledge, TimeBank hopes better relations and understanding will transpire.

For more interesting facts and case studies or for more information on becoming a refugee mentor or coach log onto log onto www.timebank.org.uk/mentor call 0845 456 1668.


For further information, please contact:
Helen Thompson or Patrick McCaren at TimeBank on 020 7401 5328/5428 mob: 07881 523 032 or email: h.thompson@timebank.org.uk / p.mccaren@timebank.org.uk

Notes to editors:-
  • TimeBank’s Time Together initiative is supported by The Employability Forum, The Princes Trust and The European Refugee Fund.
  • Time Together launches in London on 4th November, in Birmingham on 2nd December and in Glasgow on 28th January 2003.
  • TimeBank is a high profile media campaign raising awareness of the value of giving time by inspiring a new generation of volunteers.