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Guidance for LASSN Volunteers during Tier 5 aka Lockdown 3, from 6th January 2021

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2021-01-06T17:38:20+00:006th January, 2021|Categories: Befriending, Connecting Opportunities, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Headline posts, Volunteering|

Although we’re all still getting used to what Tier 5 means – it’s clear that we’ll be in it for at least a couple of months, so it feels right to communicate our thinking on things (so far) with a smile and a sigh and to hopefully provide some useful resources to help you in your volunteering. We’re really grateful to everyone who continues to give their time and support to the asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants we know. Your kindness, compassion and willingness to bend and flex are massively appreciated. Thank you on behalf of everyone that LASSN supports, the staff team, Trustees and everyone else who donates their time, money and goodwill. Jon Beech, Director What are the new Tier 5 Rules?  Here are the Government’s “Stay at Home” rules What does this mean for volunteering at LASSN? The Government summarise their current restrictions as message as “Stay Home”. We want our advice to be equally clear and consistent. So we are advising everyone - volunteers and the people they support - to be extremely cautious and to act as if they have the virus, and to avoid meeting up for the duration of the Tier 5 restrictions. The Government rules say I can leave the house for volunteering – so why can’t I meet up? Yes, it’s possible to argue this – but the situation is complicated: different volunteers and clients have different clinical vulnerabilities. (People from migrant backgrounds remain over-represented in the number of people contracting and dying of COVID). The rules for meeting up – even socially distanced and outside – are also not simple. For example, you can walk together, but you can’t sit down on a bench together. The person you wish to meet may not be able to bring children/dependents with them. There are also risks associated with travelling to and from an outdoors meeting place. If you believe someone really needs contact in person, please discuss this with your Volunteers Manager and we will work out how they can get the support they need. This is so upsetting and frustrating. Yes. It is. We are trying to do everything we can to help to support people as best we can, but the new strain of COVID makes it even more difficult than it was in March 2020. We also have a duty of care towards our volunteers and staff – so we cannot and will not ask you to put you (or the people you live with) at extra risk. So – what can we do? Staying in touch by phone is really really important. Texts and messaging are really good ways of staying in touch, and are sometimes easier than awkward conversations. Over Christmas we doubled the amount of support with phone costs from £10 per month to £20 per month. (there are PAYGO SIMs with unlimited calls/data/texts for £20 per month). We will continue to provide all LASSN volunteers and clients with up to £20 a month towards [...]

English At Home – A Review of 2020

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2021-01-06T17:15:14+00:0018th December, 2020|Categories: English at Home|

Each year, we write a summary of what we’ve been up to at English at Home, for our funders at The National Lottery. This year, we thought we’d share it a bit more widely.  It’s full of stories and inspiration.  Thank you and congratulations to all the learners, tutors, volunteers and supporters who make English at Home what it is. We are proud to know you all, and celebrate your immense achievements.  Tina and David 

A new Guide to Befriending during the Pandemic

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2021-01-06T17:16:49+00:0030th November, 2020|Categories: Befriending, Headline posts|

Tina Brocklebank, Volunteers Manager writes: Since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, LASSN has been responding to the changing and emerging needs of Befrienders and Befriendees. This booklet is a way of capturing the key things we have learned during this time and to pass on ideas and suggestions. LASSN would be nothing without YOU and the time and care you give. As we prepare for a COVID winter we are really aware of the extra challenges this will present for us all; thank you so much for all you do and we hope this resource will help you in your Befriending role.

A new Guide to teaching English at Home

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2020-10-14T21:46:02+01:0014th October, 2020|Categories: English at Home, Headline posts, Resouces, Volunteering|

Since the Pandemic  - and the importance of keeping socially distant - we've been trying to get as many of our resources as we can online. You may have seen the huge library of ESOL resources English at Home have produced for teachers and learners of English (we can never thank our volunteers Julie and Clive enough for this.) We've also been busy trying to support our (learners) and volunteer tutors to get online, embrace Zoom, and learn how to unmute and share screens. It's not been easy. A lot of trial and error, and a lot of frustration - but we're getting there, we think. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we now have a small stack of laptops and smartphones we can loan or give away to folks who need them., and we can provide a modest amount of wireless broadband each month to people without. We've tried to capture some of our learning in this new resource - designed for new English at Home Volunteers - but we think - useful to anyone trying to teach English online right now. Have a look and see what you make of it. If you think it's any good, please use it, or forward it on to someone you know. As ever, we're proud to share what we have with anyone who might find it useful. David is responsible for this excellent piece of work btw (although he's far too modest to say so himself.)

Refugee Week 2020 Day 5: Connecting Opportunities

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2020-06-19T08:21:22+01:0019th June, 2020|Categories: Connecting Opportunities, Headline posts|

We’re using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we’re offering examples of how we’ve adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. What's changed? Like all the other LASSN projects that depend on face to face contact and support, Lockdown has been very disruptive. New referrals have been put on hold and we've suspended volunteer recruitment until we can do this safely. However, we've also been able to ensure that people who are still waiting to be matched with a CO befriender have not been left on their own. We've trained and deployed existing volunteers to become temporary ‘CO Telephone Befrienders’ to make sure everyone on CO Befriending waiting list has some form of contact during lockdown. As cafes and trips out are no longer possible, Volunteer Befrienders are now reliant on phone contact, Whatsapp, or Zoom to keep in touch. Everyone has been offered extra phone credit to help to make this happen and some matches are speaking more regularly now they are not meeting face-to-face! We've developed a weekly peer-support session for all LASSN volunteers called ‘Monday Meet Up’ to help share ideas and sharpen our online support skills. The online learning resources developed by English at Home have been particularly useful for Befrienders looking for virtual activities to do with their Befriendee A few participants decided to postpone Befriending for the time being – because they are too busy with childcare responsibilities, or – due to the emotional strain of Covid-19 - they just don’t feel able to focus on Befriending right now Our ‘Tea and Talk’ sessions have moved online, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of our brilliant volunteers. Taking a large-ish social group running in a massive cafe in town on line is no small feat - and takes a lot of energy to rapidly overcome the barriers of confidence, technical knowledge, and equipment to get online, get into the meeting, feel welcomed and supported and for it also to be fun! We've done this by focusing on what's important to the folks who attend tea and talk - using a ‘Tea & Talk’ Whatsapp group to make communication easier and to choose topics for conversation. We've also made us of a lot of visual aids to facilitate conversations, i.e. ‘Show and Tell’: sharing an object that is special to you with the group, and explaining why it's special; sharing decorations made during Ramadan, photos and recipes. “Thank you…You don’t know how much I enjoy these lovely two hour talks. Time really flies.” I’m Laura . I’m Egyptian. I have been in the UK since 2014. I came first to North Wales. I stayed 2.5 years there . I felt so lonely . I didn’t know anybody there. Nobody asked about me . I felt very depressed. After this my husband came to Leeds and started a [...]

Refugee Week 2020 Day 4: Befriending

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2020-06-19T07:58:19+01:0018th June, 2020|Categories: Befriending, Headline posts|

We’re using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we’re offering examples of how we’ve adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. What's changed? Lockdown came at a strange time for Befriending - we'd only just nicely completed and publicised our Evaluation of Befriending and made our plans for the next year, when all this was thrown up in the air. As social distancing was introduced (and Lockdown soon afterwards), Befrienders found that they could not longer meet with the person they were matched with, and faced the new challenge of how supporting someone they could no longer meet. After months and months of building confidence to to get out of the house, to share a cuppa in a cafe, and to maybe to meet new people - asylum seekers and refugees were suddenly being told to stay inside, and to socially distance from others. Our fledgling social groups were hit particularly hard. In the months running up to lockdown we had placed particular emphasis on developing and expanding our Meet and Connect project. The aim of Meet and Connect is to assist isolated asylum seekers and refugees to meet up with other people in cafe spaces across Leeds in order to buld their confidence, practice English and to find out more about (and eventially to connect with) their local neighbourhoods. Lockdown meant we could no longer meet up like we used to, and the key message from the project set up to combat isolation and loneliness was "Stay Home, Save Lives and Protect the NHS." So, like English at Home, Befriending has stopped taking new referrals for the time being, and to concentrate on maintaining contact with the people we already know, to ensure they have sufficient food and resources to keep body and soul together accurate and accessible information on the Pandemic, and the key Public Health messages sufficient phone credit, and digital devices to keep in contact with their volunteers, and other sources of support volunteers who are sufficiently trained and supported to make the leap from face to face to online and phone support. Our Digital Inclusion scheme (supplying phone credit, wifi dongles and smartphones) is a direct response to the loneliness and isolation experienced by people on low incomes during Lockdown. And with the help and support of Leeds City Council's 100% Digital team, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commisisoner and friends at Solidaritech we have managed to extend support far beyond LASSN's befriending and Meet and Connect participants. Nicolla, our volunteer has been receiving orders, packing up bundles of phones and SIMS and other tech before couriering them out to folk who need them.  We've set up regular Zoom calls (Monday Meetups) to help volunteers to grapple with the new technology and to build their confidence in maintaining meaningful relationships at a distance. This has not [...]

Refugee Week 2020 Day 2: English at Home

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2020-06-15T19:49:54+01:0016th June, 2020|Categories: English at Home, Headline posts|

We're using Refugee Week as a way to explain how the work of LASSN has changed during Lockdown. Each day we're offering examples of how we've adapted what we do, to make sure asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk of harm remain supported, empowered, and integrated. So what's changed? Three months ago, LASSN's English at Home project was the only way asylum seekers and refugees in Leeds could learn English at home. And of course, since lockdown, every ESOL class is held at home, which is kind of brilliant, but also comes with its own challenges. Sadly, we've had to put new referrals on hold for the time being, as well as suspending volunteer recruitment. We're doing this until we can work out the best way of assessing the level of English of people being referred, and checking out the skills of new volunteers - without being able to meet them face to face We're still managing to re-match learners with existing volunteers, and deploy some of the unmatched English at Home volunteers into new roles (as telephone befrienders), We've also been providing weekly skill-share drop-ins to help volunteers make the difficult transition from providing face-to-face learning and support to online learning. And, in addition to all of this, Riley has had to be furloughed (working from home isn't do-able whilst the schools are closed). Which basically means David has been holding the fort. Online learning resources, free for everyone We started lockdown by trying to support our English at Home matches to explore new ways of learning, and issuing new guidance to our volunteers on how to teach in socially distant ways. We also knew that without our help, many of the people we knew would not be able to afford to stay in touch with the person they were matched with  - so a key part of our strategy was to issue phone credit to all clients and volunteers who needed it. Since then. we've also been able to supply mobile phones, and laptops, and wifi dongles using our Digital Inclusion scheme with the support of our friends at Solidaritech. We've told you before about the hundreds of free teaching resources we've created posted online (https://lassn.org.uk/teaching-resources/) thanks to the diligence and hard work of Clive and Julie our online librarians. And since lockdown, we've added a whole new range of resources for Tutors and Learners who are not used to learning/teaching online - and which are designed to build confidence and to involve the whole family.  Our friend Daniela Prataviera created a half-hour webinar on Using online communication with low-level learners and we've either found or made accessible information about how to use Zoom David writes: Head to the Ideas and Activities section for numerous suggestions that can be used straight away with your learner. They can all be easily adapted to suit any level of learner, and can be used as a starter or whole lesson. Amy, one of our wonderful volunteers, has created Read Along [...]

Job: Volunteers Manager (Connecting Opportunities: Mentoring & Befriending) £26k

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2019-08-05T14:21:21+01:0025th October, 2018|Categories: Connecting Opportunities, Vacancies|

We are looking for a Volunteers Manager to  oversee the work of LASSN’s Connecting Opportunities: Mentoring and Befriending Project, to enable refugees and other migrants with a right to stay in the UK to increase their confidence, improve their spoken English, and to understand and make stronger connections with their neighbourhoods and communities. Salary: NJC Scale SO1 (SCP29-31) £26,470 - £28,221 Hours: 37 hours a week Location: LASSN office, Oak House, Leeds LS3 1EL Closing date for applications: 9am Monday 12th November 2018. People with lived experience of migration with relevant skills and experience are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications on a Job-Share or Secondment basis considered This funding for this post ends at the end of June 2019, although it may be extended. The person we appoint will • have at least 12 months’ experience of supporting volunteers, • enjoy working flexibly in a small, friendly team. • share LASSN’s commitment to ensuring asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants at risk of harm are safe, respected, supported and empowered to rebuild their lives free of persecution; • have a commitment to helping ordinary people find ways of making Leeds a friendlier, more welcoming city. • be confident working with IT (including Microsoft Office) and • enjoy helping other people learn and acquire new skills. Their can-do approach, and ability to complete tasks to agreed deadlines will play a key role in the smooth running of a team that values diversity, kindness, and high standards of support. The closing date for applications is 9am Monday 12th November 2018; Shortlisted candidates will be informed by 17:30 on Friday 16th November 2018; Interviews will be held on Tuesday 20th November 2018 If you want to have an informal conversation about this role call Jon Beech on 07845 298047 during office hours. Download an application pack as a zip or download the separate documents below Background info on LASSN CO Advertisement CO Application form CO Cover Letter CO Volunteers Manager JD (Befriending) CO Volunteers Manager PS (Befriending) Final

Friends of LASSN – Spring 2018

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2018-11-09T14:51:05+00:0026th April, 2018|Categories: Headline posts, Projects|

We've just published our April edition of Friends of LASSN - it's packed with all sorts of stories about the difference we're making to the lives of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants at risk, as well as practical steps you can take to show solidarity at home, at work, and whilst you're deciding who to vote for in the upcoming elections. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy compiling it. As usual it features the voices of asylum seekers, volunteers and staff at LASSN - and this one includes an invitation to the biggest and best party you'll attend all year... #musicwithoutborders on 11th May 2018. Please click on the link below to find out more

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