Refugee Allies

Refugee Allies is a social inclusion project promoting understanding, generating empathy and fostering connection between local people and displaced people through public events, volunteering and public speaking.

Jo Winsloe-Slater

Jo Winsloe Slater

Project Manager

Jo is Programme Manager of Refugee Allies at St Ethelburga’s.  She collaborates with innovative organisations to bring refugee and non-refugee together building empathy and understanding one conversation and one action, at a time. She hosts and co-ordinates inclusion events and leads on the design, development and coordination of Act: Speak: Inspire, a programme of volunteering in refugee camps in Europe to cultivate allyship and stimulate action within each volunteer’s home community.  Jo has worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty years.  She holds a BA (Hons) in Education and a Diploma in group facilitation, conflict resolution and counselling (NAOS).

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Inside Stories is a series of conversations with people who have been displaced by war, conflict or persecution about their lives, thoughts and hopes for others during the pandemic.


  • Could you make your local community more welcoming, compassionate and inclusive?
  • Do you want to learn great leadership skills and make friendships across cultural differences?

Across the UK thousands of individuals and families who have been forced from their countries are building a new life and a new home.  They are far away from friends and family and in a place where the language and culture are unfamiliar, foreign.  They frequently face resentment or hostility and racism from their new neighbours.

Act: Speak: Inspire is a unique intercultural leadership programme offering an immersive journey to cultivate more welcoming and resilient communities. You will be volunteering in Northern France and then return to the UK to amplify the voice and needs of displaced people in your home (local)community.  Your story of volunteering and the people you meet will build empathy and inspire others to think and act differently to create a more inclusive, compassionate society.

“There are some experiences in life that leave their mark on our souls and shape how we view the world… for me, and this was one of them.”    Hina, participant

“What has stuck with me is the complexity of life and the injustices there are and how this could be any of us put in that situation. This fact particularly drives home to me being a first-generation immigrant.”  Kadija, participant.

The programme will enable you to:

  • be an ally to people who have suffered, and survive extraordinary hardship
  • bring greater understanding and awareness of the plight of refugees to your community
  • hone your leadership skills for an increasingly divisive world
  • hone your storytelling and public speaking skills to speak powerfully to your community
  • become part of a community of allies and activists

“As much as my experience has made me question humanity and feel deeply saddened by the capacity to treat another human being in such a way as to leave them in a situation such as in Calais, it has also totally and utterly restored and amplified my faith in humanity.  I feel as much as I was there to serve, the souls I met in Calais, Dunkirk and Brussels served me in more ways than I could have ever anticipated.  I am in complete awe of their resilience, openness, generosity, love and support for each other.  It is hard to put my experience into words but what I do know is that my time in Calais has transformed me.”  Mollie, participant

Act: Speak: Inspire participants:

  • Are committed to acting from a place of their deepest values
  • Want to grow in understanding about the plight of refugees and of global displacement
  • Want to be a voice for change and a catalyst for peace among their community, friends and family
  • Can commit time to the different elements of the programme; training, volunteering, Action@Home

Could this be you?

“I think it was an abstract political concept for my father; a group of refugees trying to enter European countries, and that before I volunteered in Calais, he didn’t think of them as real people with personalities and emotions.  But that after hearing from me he thought more about what it must feel like and the desperation experienced by the refugees.” Natasha, participant


The 2020 programme has been postponed due to Covid-19.  It will be re-scheduled for 2021 when it becomes clear how the programme can be delivered safely within any social distancing measures.  If you would like to register your interest before the new dates are published, please email

St Ethelburga’s has been leading short-term volunteering programmes in Europe since 2016.  Our training sessions explore what it means to be an ally in today’s uncertain times, prepares you thoroughly for volunteering with a front-line organisation supporting refugees, and for hosting and speaking at an event to share what you have witnessed.


Many of the core costs of this programme will be covered for you.

These include:

  • Training and venue costs provided as part of the programme in London
  • Car and ferry travel between London and France and transfers in France
  • Breakfast and accommodation in shared, single-sex, hostel two-bed dorms in France

Not included in your programme costs are:

  • Travel to any training sessions in London
  • Lunch by small donation (€3) in France
  • Dinner (options for self-catering) in France
  • Personal insurance for travel to France
  • Visa costs (non-UK passport)
  • Personal spending

If you are accepted onto the programme, you will be asked for a deposit of £50, re-payable on completion of your event (Action@Home) at the end of the programme.  Please contact us if the deposit or the uncovered costs prevents you from applying:

“I used to think I was knowledgeable when it came to the issues surrounding the refugee crisis, I used to talk about the topic passionately, I used to share statistics and talk about the failures of the international community, and yet when we arrived at the camp I realised that I belonged to the group of people who were so far removed from the reality of the situation, so detached and that over time my words had grown empty and my heart numb to the suffering that was unfolding day after day.  The suffering that surrounds us that we fail to see”. Nazgol, participant.

“For my Action@Home I felt like I had something really important to say and my personal highlight came when my guests came up to me and messaged me afterwards with further questions; what I said had stuck with them and they were still thinking about it afterwards.”  Jacob, participan

Watch this video from a recent programme.

Trainers and Mentors on this programme:

Trainers and mentors for the programme in 2021 are yet to be confirmed.  In 2019, they included:

Habib Sadat

Habib Sadat is from Herat Afghanistan, where he spent 13 years working for the Afghan National Army alongside NATO forces. He left Afghanistan in October 2015 and after spending three months in Calais’ notorious camp, arrived in UK in June 2016. Two years later, Habib has recently been granted refugee status. Habib has been artist in residence at the Migration Museum; a chef and trustee sharing family recipes with Migrateful and, as an actor and set designer, was previously a part of PsycheDelight’s Borderline theatre productions.  Habib recently completed The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network’s (TERN) ICE Academy and is launching a business to share Afghani culture with people through his dual love of food and art.


Sukina Pilgrim

Sukina is a Poet, Spoken-Word artist, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator and Event Organiser and co-founder of Muslim female Hip Hop duo, Poetic Pilgrimage. She has facilitated creative writing workshops across the world empowering communities to use the written word as a tool for dialogue and as a means for accessing their authentic voice.  Her work has been featured widely on major media networks including, BBC News, World Service and Asian Network, ITV, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera.  Sukina holds a she holds a BA (Hons) Degree in English Literature and Caribbean Studies and is currently pursuing an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes.


Declan Darcy

Declan is an Associate Fellow of St Ethelburga’s Centre.  He holds a First Class BA (Hons) in International Relations and Political Theory, and an MA in Anthropology of Development & Social Change, as well as a Certificate in Participatory Methods from the Institute of Development Studies. He has also worked on and supported grassroots community projects in East Africa, Guatemala, Spain and the UK.

Through his previous work in international peacebuilding, Declan has learnt the great importance of intimacy and bearing witness to build and re-build communities – even after the most extreme violence. His current work is focused on offering heartfelt spaces to process grief and trauma related to engaged social and environmental work.


Jo Winsloe Slater

Jo is Programme Manager of Refugee Allies at St Ethelburga’s.  She collaborates with innovative organisations to bring refugee and non-refugee together building empathy and understanding one conversation and one action, at a time. She hosts and co-ordinates inclusion events and leads on the design, development and coordination of Act: Speak: Inspire, a programme of volunteering in refugee camps in Europe to cultivate allyship and stimulate action within each volunteer’s home community.  Jo has worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty years.  She holds a BA (Hons) in Education and a Diploma in group facilitation, conflict resolution and counselling (NAOS).

Refugee Allies events are social gatherings bringing together local people and displaced people.  The events are structured, include all partcipants and focus around different, simple activities that engage everyone and encourage conversation and connection. The events are an experience of the things that connect and unite us as we grow in understanding of one another.

Events are organised and hosted by St Ethelburgas, or we partner with other organisations or individuals to co-create an event together.

Events may includes all or some of the following:

  • A welcome and outline of the day
  • Conversations to learn about, and from each other
  • Hot, vegetarian shared meal and refreshments during the day
  • Live music
  • Spaces for relaxing, chatting with familiar and new friends.
  • Children’s corner

A few words from guests

  • “I love this place!  No religion; all religion.  No country; all country.  Freedom!!”
  • ‘Where I come [from there is] one religion, one way.  Today I learn so much”
  • “We forgot our divisions today”     “I learnt how curious I am about other people’s cultures”
  • “I felt inspired seeing all the other people around me”
  • “I hadn’t expected to be so moved.”

How to get involved

Organisations: Why not plan a visit to the welcoming haven of St Ethelburga’s with its unique history and inspiring stories of compassion, renewal, perseverance and unity.

Organisations and individuals: Got an idea for an event or project to co-create together?

Get in touch for more information. Email Jo Winsloe Slater or text or Whatsap Jo on 07725954005

Upcoming Events

Check out our Events Page for upcoming events.

Past social events

Photos from past events.  Guests in these pictures gave consent for their photos to be taken.

The summer of 2015 brought into sharp focus the politics and consequences of war and global inequalities as more than a million men, women and children fleeing their homelands in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, risked their lives to seek refuge and a better life in Europe. In response to the images that daily filled our screens, that same winter staff from St Ethelburga’s Centre volunteered on the Greek island of Lesbos, a hot-spot amid the unfolding humanitarian crisis. From this life-changing experience, the Refugee Allies project emerged.  How could others share in this experience of human connection and interconnectedness and act to make a difference?  How would the experience change us and contribute to building more welcoming and resilient communities?

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