Paiwand Afghan Association – Community Advocacy Volunteer
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Paiwand Afghan Association supports all asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to the UK, not just Afghans. However, Paiwand was formed in 2002 by committed volunteers from the Afghan community in the UK. The association was formed in response to a manifest growth in problems faced by members of the Afghan refugee community living in the UK in the areas of housing, employment, education, children, family support and mental health.
The Paiwand Advocacy Service aims to assist and enable refugees and asylum seekers to have their views taken into account by the organisations who make decisions which affect them. Advocacy is not about making decisions for people, but about giving them the information and resources they need to make decisions for themselves and then assisting them in following through those decisions.
The service provides people with advice and support in a number of areas including housing, welfare benefits, legal rights, access to education etc. The Advocacy Service provided by Paiwand is both free and independent. The Paiwand office is located in North-West London, close to Edgware station, with outreach clinics in Ealing and Harrow.
Details of the Volunteering Opportunity:
We require Community Advocate Volunteers to work within the Advocacy Service at Paiwand to provide advice, advocacy and support to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants on issues such as housing, access to services, benefits, debt or health issues.
The roles involves:
- Providing face-to-face advice sessions, under the supervision and guidance of the Advocacy Service Manager, on presented issues relating to immigration, housing, welfare and health
- Entering clients’ personal details and casework notes onto the organisational database ensuring that the information is accurate and up-to-date
- Make referrals to other services or organisations where they are better placed to offer advice and support
- Advocating on behalf of clients either face-to-face or over the telephone when there are problems accessing specific services
- Supporting clients to make applications for specific support e.g. housing and welfare applications
- Working with staff and volunteers within the organisation to ensure that clients receive the highest level of holistic support
- To provide a safe and welcoming environment for new refugees
- To ensure interpretation is provided for clients wherever possible
- Maintain confidentiality in all dealings with clients
Normally, we request volunteers to come 2 days/week, however, we are willing to take 1 day/week, 9-5. Depending on which day, you will either be based in the head office or one of our outreach clinics.
- Ability to communicate in another language would be beneficial but not essential (Arabic, Farsi, Pashtu, Dari, Urdu, Hindi or Somali)
- Experience of providing housing and/or welfare advice to adults is essential.
- OISC or other advice related qualification would be helpful but not essential
- Willingness to learn how to offer advice in each of the areas (employment, housing, health, immigration, welfare) is also an essential part of the role
- Ability to listen carefully and sympathetically to issues that a client presents
- Ability to deal sensitively to often complicated and traumatic issues
- Ability and willingness to advocate on behalf of clients with public sector services (e.g. Job Centre, NHS etc.)
- Good command of written and spoken English
- Good computer skills
- Good telephone manner
- Travel expenses reimbursed
- Free training
- Hours volunteered will be recorded on your H.E.A.R transcript – which goes on your permanent university record
- All hours will contribute towards your Brunel Volunteers Award which leads to an invitation to the Brunel Volunteers Awards Ceremony in May