Hannah is a former EFL teacher and has been volunteering with refugees since her undergraduate days. She has previously led an English language project and worked as a volunteer coordinator for a small refugee NGO in Turkey, volunteered on a telephone helpline for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, and been an immigration detention centre visitor. She has lived, worked, and travelled in the Middle East, and when not working in her day job as a lawyer, is preparing to do a PhD on global inequalities and social justice. 

Joining the group 

I'd heard a little about community sponsorship and I was really pleased to hear about this new way for some refugees to reach safety and rebuild their lives. I discovered the Bermondsey group while researching for an assignment on how local communities in the UK are supporting refugees and I was keen to get involved myself! Having recently moved to South London, I’m pleased there’s a group on my doorstep.


I have a long background volunteering with refugees. I’m not exactly sure what made me initially connect with this cause so much, but it might be my interest in other parts of the world since childhood, combined with studying international politics at university. As a young undergraduate, I started volunteering at a local conversation club where students and members of the community practised English and I enjoyed conversations with refugees and asylum seekers. It was such a warm and positive environment, bringing some light into the lives of people who had experienced and were still experiencing so much hardship, that I became committed to the cause.


The Bermondsey group has been really welcoming and I’ve been able to get involved straight away. I’m just really looking forward to meeting all of the team in person!

Using my skills

As I speak Arabic well, I think that will be a skill I can use a lot when the family arrives. Having studied ‘standard Arabic’, I’m brushing up on my Levantine dialect now! I’ve joined the Arabic teaching team and I’m hoping to help out with the sessions in the coming months.


I taught English for many years in everything from language schools to universities, to business, but the best teaching experiences for me were the ones with refugees. A strong memory is the very elderly man in one of my beginner refugee classes in Turkey, who despite health problems and perhaps having never been to school before, came to every single lesson and studied hardest in the class. I’d like to use my experiences to help the family with the language they’ll need to settle in and manage their daily lives here.


Community Sponsorship 

Having met many refugees waiting for resettlement through the UN, I’m glad that the UK now has a community sponsorship scheme and I hope it keeps expanding. The number of refugees in the world continues to increase and community sponsorship can at least provide sanctuary for some of those stuck in refugee camps and living in limbo.


For anyone considering getting involved in a community sponsorship group, I’d definitely recommend it! It’s not only a way to help make a difference to people’s lives, it’s also a great way to make new friends, feel more involved in your community, and meet people from diverse backgrounds.

You can support us to resettle a refugee family and help them to build a new and sustainable life by donating to our Just Giving page