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 brings a wealth of experience from over twenty years co-ordinating projects in the fields of interfaith, social justice and social care in the non-governmental sector. During the winter of 2015/16 members of the St Ethelburga staff team volunteered on the Greek island of Lesbos; an experience that inspired the co-creation of the programme, Refugee Allies. She holds a Diploma in group facilitation, conflict resolution and counselling (NAOS) and is a graduate of the International School of Storytelling.

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  • Do you care about the plight of refugees?
  • Do you want to make your local community more compassionate and inclusive?
  • Do you want to learn great leadership skills and make friendships across faith and cultural differences?

Act: Speak: Inspire is a unique interfaith and intercultural leadership programme that offers a chance to take action on one of the most pressing issues of our times.

You will offer a practical hand and a listening heart in Calais and return to the UK to amplify the voice of displaced people in your home community.  Through sharing your story of volunteering and the people you meet, you will build empathy and inspire others to think differently and take action to build 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 this was one of them.”    Hina, participant 2017

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
  • form friendships for life across different faiths and cultures

“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.”  Participant 2018

Act: Speak: Inspire volunteers:

  • Have an active faith/spiritual practice and/or a passion to live from 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

 “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.” Participant 2018


The programme runs between 20 September and 7 December 2019 with relevant training days held at weekends.  Volunteering in Calais runs from Monday 4 November to Friday 8 November (5 week days).  Full dates are given in the application form.

St Ethelburga’s has been leading short-term volunteering programmes in formal and informal refugee camps since 2016.  Our training sessions prepare you thoroughly for volunteering and sharing your story and provide inspiration to think differently about refugees, community and the world we’re living in today.


The volunteering strand of this programme has core funding to support participants.  It covers:

  • All car and ferry travel between London and Calais and transfers in Calais
  • Accommodation in shared, single-sex, hostel two-bed dorms
  • Breakfast

Not included in volunteering costs are:

  • Lunch by small donation (€3)
  • Dinner (options for self-catering)
  • Personal insurance
  • 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 at the end of the programme and on completion of your Action@Home.  Please contact us if the deposit prevents you from applying:  or mobile: 07725954005

“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 was 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”. Participant 2016

“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.”Participant 2018

Watch this video of last year’s programme.

Request an application pack. 

Click this link or email


Trainers and Mentors on this programme:

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 Programme Manager of ‘Presence’, spoken word and acoustic events at St Ethelburga’s.  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.  Sukina has played an intrinsic role within the British Muslim creative communities as a performer and events organiser and has created platforms for many national and international Muslim artists to express themselves and launch their careers.  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 partner organisations to bring refugee and non-refugee together building empathy and understanding one conversation and one action, at a time. She co-ordinates inclusion events at St Ethelburga’s and leads on the design and development of the volunteer programme working in informal or formal refugee camps in Europe.  Jo has worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty years.  She holds a first class BA (Hons) in Education, a Diploma in group facilitation, conflict resolution and counselling (NAOS) and is a graduate of the International School of Storytelling.

Refugee Allies Booklet – forthcoming!

What does being an ally look like?  What inspirational new projects are leading the way?  Our forthcoming booklet weaves together practical information, a multitude of resources, innovative case studies – and an invitation to get involved and make a difference.

One human reaching out to another with kindness and curiosity. What better place to start?

Dr. Madeleine Moss, Contributor


Click here to request a copy



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, an expression of our shared humanity.

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 empathic, resilient communities?

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