Penrith And Eden Refugee Network

Penrith and Eden Refugee Network

Refugee Buddy Scheme

Receiving ‘Leave to Remain’ status means that individuals can feel more secure and psychologically safe. However, this also means that individuals face new challenges and opportunities. The basic needs such as housing and money become the new refugees’ responsibility to navigate. The UK has some strange ways and it is easy to get confused.


PERN’s Refugee Buddy Scheme supports and empowers new refugees as they make their new life. We do this by matching new refugees with a Buddy. The Buddy and the new refugee get to know each other over a few months and the Buddy is there to offer guidance on living life in the UK. This includes housing, work, benefits, paying tax, culture and social activities. The Buddy doesn’t know everything (nobody does!) but they can support someone to find out.

How does the Buddy Scheme work?
The Buddy Scheme Coordinator recruits and matches volunteer buddies and new refugees. The volunteer team will learn and share knowledge about key tasks of settling into a new life in the UK. They will grow networks to introduce new refugees to useful contacts for social, jobs and housing. The Buddy Scheme Coordinator will provide basic training in some of the key tasks new refugees must complete such as Universal Credit, registering at college, CV writing and job search. The Coordinator is available to advise on more complex matters and help solve problems.

How do new Refugees and Buddies work together?

New refugees may know what they need and want but it can be hard making it happen. Buddies use the everyday life experience they have to help a new refugee. Volunteer buddies will empower their match to navigate the required tasks themselves, offering knowledge and encouragement which will encourage refugees to take charge of their own future. Buddies and refugees aim to meet weekly and may exchange WhatsApp messages in between. A new refugee may want to check a letter, fill in an online application, prepare for an interview, understand how recycling works or check out the polite way to thank someone who has helped them.


Who can be a Buddy?

Anyone who has experience of living in the UK. We hope that many refugees, once established in their new life, will volunteer as Buddies. Lived experience brings the best understanding of the life of a new refugee. In time we hope to be able to offer a new refugee a buddy with lived experience alongside a buddy who has lived in the UK for many years. In this way understanding of systems, culture and experience can be offered from different perspectives. If you are interested in being a Buddy, please contact the Refugee Support team


Who can be a new refugee?

Anyone granted leave to remain in the last 12 months who thinks they would benefit from a Buddy.


How do I register? 

We ask Buddies and new refugees to complete a simple form to apply – please contact Refugee Support for the form. You may be asked for a chat with the Coordinator to check this is a good scheme for you. Everyone must commit to the values and rules of PERN and the New Refugee Buddy Scheme. PERN will take up two references for everyone who participates. Once passed the recruitment and checks new refugees and Buddies will be matched and invited to meet each other.

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