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Welcome pack

Welcome and thank you for donating your time! 
Asylum Links is a group of volunteers.
We share information in solidarity with refugees, immigrants, and people on the move. 
We run everything collectively as volunteers, wether activists or coordinators. 
What you can do depends only on how much time you have. 

The stated purpose of Asylum Links as a registered charity is:  

The prevention or relief of poverty among refugees and migrants, in particular but not exclusively by improving access of refugees and migrants to services and to opportunities which can improve their living conditions for the public benefit in the UK and overseas.

The aim of Asylum Links is to share positive and independent information about travel and living anywhere. 

We focus on all aspects of people’s right to immigrate:  
internal and international, 
forced and voluntary, 
temporary and permanent, 
documented or undocumented. 

I’m @Demi, one of the trustees of Asylum Links. I take care of recruitment and volunteer coordination together with @Eneda. 
My day job is to run the alinks.org website. This website publish information about travel and living abroad. It is translated in almost 100 languages and thousands of people visit it everyday. I’m the person who is most around if you need anything at the start, but after a while you will have a group of other volunteers that you’ll work with. 

The alinks.org makes money through simple advertisement, that’s normally around one thousand US Dollars per month. 10 to 15 percent goes to fundraise the operations of Asylum Links. That’s to support destitute people that might contact us, a small project in Bangladesh with Rohingya people and eventual volunteer expenses. The rest goes to pay maintenance of the website, paying the writers and the staff that work on it. We don’t make any money on answering to people questions. As you can see, none is, at the moment, paid a living wage, salary.

As a volunteer you make possible for us to do casework people.

All casework comes from people emailing us because they see a “Contact us if you need help” link on alinks.org. 

People leave comments as well, which we also reply to.

Please remember that we share information and don’t share (expert of legal) advice. All information we share comes from reliable sources that are publicly available. 

Sharing Information is an unbiased service that will assist you in identifying and narrowing your options but will not tell you what to do. The decision is entirely yours. Giving advice will recommend a specific course of action for you to take.

We will make a training about the Information vs Advice subject but this is a good short explanation.

We used to do information outreach on FB groups or other platforms. We’ll start again when we have enough volunteers or someone has the time to bootstrap our outreach.

We also do research on which information could be useful for people and on how to reach people with that information. You are welcome with any ideas. 

These 3 simple start will get you up and start your volunteering experience.

1

First of all, you want to do your first training so you can further understand if this is something for you.

You can ‘walk in’ on Slack for your first training every weekday, and most Saturdays, from 1 pm UK time to to 5 pm UK time. Just contact @Demi or @Eneda. If they cannot do, they’ll find someone who can do the first training with you. 
If you need other times or days, just tell the casework coordinator of that day or @Demi or @Antika. 
You can also give a shout on the #casework channel on Slack and someone we’ll book a training with you. Additionally, our volunteer Ened has created a short video for your first training, which could also be of great help. 

2

Once you have finished your first training. Think about if this is the kind of experience you were looking for. Interacting with people online has advantages and disadvantages and everyone is different.

If this is something for you, think about which days you are most likely to volunteer with us, and write them on the roster.

When you need anything, you should be able to find it in the slack post called Where is What. If not just ask to the coordinator of the day, or @Eneda or @Demi.

3

Once you start volunteering regularly you will contact with the people that works with you on the same day. You can see availability on the roster.
We are building a buddy system in which volunteers will be paired up with someone who volunteers on the same day or days. This will allow team members to learn about our goals, share ideas and challenges with their buddy if they want to, adjust better and most importantly feel heard and appreciated for the efforts they put in this volunteer work. The overall goal of this team work is that everyone feels comfortable in this platform, and feel connected with the purpose of the work we do. Buddies could train the new volunteers, peer-mentor them and provide feedback about the progress the new volunteer is making. Also, becoming a buddy is totally consensual and if you feel overwhelmed you can request to take a break.
Some other trainings are available, and coming (implicit bias, advice vs info, psychological first aid, coordination etc.), you can request for them, conduct them for volunteers if possible, for individuals or groups. 

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Casework is our field work. That is the activity where we have conversation with people and share information. Casework is like an online information center for people all around the world. 

An activist is a person in a safe space who has the time and support to look for good information. We don’t give expert advice, if someone needs expert advice, we can find a local service close to them. We try to not give opinions, but we do show all options that are available to a person. All information we share comes from reliable sources that are publicly available.

We do casework on a shared email. Everyone can answer to any email that they think didn’t have a good reply yet. That way we safeguard the people contacting us. And we self care because none feels alone as that they are the only person responsible to give an answer. You can take a break whenever you want.

All people that contact us are resourceful people. Most of the times, they don’t contact only us. Therefore give the best answer you can get and don’t worry about if you don’t give all the possible options. You can continue the conversation if the person reply. Or you can follow up if something you deem important comes up.

Information about traveling and moving is messy and official sources are not clear or updated. You need to be comfortable with the information you give. If you are uncertain about something, be open about it, and tell to the person you are talking with. If you feel that the information you give can put a person in harmful situation, tell the person. 
alinks.org/activists