West End Refugee Service (WERS)

Skillsmatch platform to help refugees and asylum seekers find volunteering opportunities

It’s a sad fact that many of those who migrate to the UK seeking refuge or a better life for themselves or their families find themselves in a situation where they’re not allowed to work or receive benefits due to their asylum or refugee claims being denied. This can have a profound impact on these individuals’ mental health, as they are can be left socially isolated,  unable to support themselves financially and unable to contribute to their communities. What’s more, they often have valuable, professional skills that they’re unable to put into practice.

Roots and Wings began working with the West End Refugee Service (WERS) in 2018 to create an online platform that can tap into this reservoir of practical skills. By matching refugees and asylum seekers with local volunteering opportunities, Skillsmatch is designed to provide opportunities for these skills to be put to use and allow these people to give back to and engage meaningfully with their communities, reduce feelings of social isolation and help contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing.

The prototype for Skillsmatch was funded as a pilot scheme with further funding being secured for completion of the platform. We’re happy to say that after a lot of hard work by our developer (thanks Brendan!) skillsmatch.info is now up and running, with WERS acting as managers and gatekeepers. A number of local organisations have signed up and are taking volunteers through the platform and we hope that as it gains momentum more organisations will follow. Huge thanks to WERS for getting us involved in Skillsmatch and also to funders Creative Fuse and the National Lottery Community Fund for helping bring this project to fruition!