SWVG was founded in 1989. Since 2019 we have been a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, charity number 1183558.
Most of what we do is planned and managed directly by volunteers working in groups.
Trained volunteers provide one-to-one befriending and support to local asylum seekers. The team is led by the Coordinator and two Deputy Coordinators who organise initial assessments for each newly referred asylum seeker, appoint visitors, monitor developments and respond to problems. Our Support Groups give visitors the chance to talk through problems and share information.
We provide one-to-one English language teaching, co-ordinated by the English Teaching Group.
We manage a hostel for up to six people to accommodate people who struggle to find accommodation elsewhere.
We allocate funds for housing and subsistence to those who are destitute at monthly meetings of our Money Allocation Group.
Our Legal Justice Group agrees expenditure on legal-related activities, and decides which cases need to be forwarded to our legal advisor for assessment.
Our Activities Groups organise events such as visits, parties or walks for asylum seekers, to broaden their experience of life in Britain and break up the monotony of their lives. Examples include outings to Winchester, walks in the New Forest or by the sea, theatre trips for adults and children, cycling tuition, yoga classes and an allotment.
How SWVG is organised
The trustees have overall responsibility for our work and finances.
Our Campaigning Group plans and manages campaigns to improve the lives of asylum seekers and refugees, drawing from our direct practical experience in Southampton and Winchester. Our campaigns may involve contact with our local MP’s and other political parties, letters and articles for newspapers, going on radio and TV, and joining demonstrations. We participate in campaigns by national refugee organisations where these are relevant to our local issues.
Our Fundraising Group writes bids for grants from charitable trusts, liaises with churches and other organisations who make donations, and promotes charitable gifts from individuals.
Our Events Groups (one in Winchester and one in Southampton) organise activities such as concerts, theatrical performances, talks, dinners and sponsored walks to raise funds and awareness of the plight of asylum seekers.
Our Communications Group manages our website and social media presence as well as producing leaflets, newsletters and other materials.
The Training Group provides a training programme for new volunteers. We also provide tailor-made training for visitors and other members in response to their needs. We have provided training for volunteers in other charities who are working with people seeking asylum.