A guide for volunteering to assist refugees

Subject:  Law and Political Science
Three boys talking
Author: Sandra Pérez

The library guide is aimed at anyone in the university community who is interested in issues related to refugees and international protection.

The UOC promotes its own volunteering and also participates in programmes run by state and international institutions and organizations. Get involved!

Despite the increase in recent years, today only 5 % of refugees have access to higher education. In 2016, the UOC launched the Refugee Welcome Programme to make it easier for them to be included through study grants. Since then, the project has expanded its lines of action by offering newly arrived students the assistance of volunteers from the university community.

One of the most recent milestones is the participation of the UOC in the Government of Catalonia's Catalan Refugee Programme (PCR), which is run by the Directorate General for Migration, Refuge and The Fight Against Racism (DGMRA) of the Ministry of Equality and Feminism.

Students, faculty members and administrative staff who sign up to assist refugees and applicants for international protection will receive training in mentoring in employment and social guidance from the Government of Catalonia.

A selection of mentoring resources

The UOC's Office of the Vice Presidents for Globalization and Cooperation together with the Directorate General for Migration, Refuge and The Fight Against Racism (DGMRA) have promoted the new library guide "Welcoming and looking after refugees". It contains open content to provide support for volunteers participating in the Catalan programme and people who have signed up for the UOC's refugee assistance programme.

The guide may also be useful as a starting point for anyone who has ever thought about volunteering or who would simply like to find out more about the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean and what initiatives are being implemented to promote the inclusion of people who have been forced to leave their homes.

What will you find in this library guide?

  • Resources to clear up the most frequent terminological and conceptual doubts, such as the difference between migrants and refugees.
  • A glossary with detailed explanations of terms related to asylum, which are tackled from the point of view of different disciplines, such as law, psychology and sociology: stateless, registration certificate, migratory mourning, asylum procedure, safe third country, etc.
  • Data from the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) to gain an understanding of the reality of asylum in Spain. According to the organization, the state approved 1 in every 20 asylum applications in 2020.
  • The national and European legal framework for the protection and integration of refugees.
  • A collection of accounts describing the experience of refugees linked to the Global Compact on Refugees, approved in 2018.
  • A publication that brings to light gender-based persecution and the importance of including a gender perspective in the welcome process.
  • Studies analysing mentoring procedures and their benefits.
  • Manuals, tips and best practices for volunteers assisting refugees, ranging from how to identify the main needs and concerns of refugees in their new country to using non-discriminatory language towards communities at risk of social exclusion.
  • Services, organizations and programmes that offer support to migrants and refugees. For example, you can find out more about the Catalan Refugee Programme (PCR). 

Want to help? Get involved!

The UOC promotes its own volunteering programmes and also encourages participation in the volunteering projects of other third-sector partner organizations.

If you are a member of the UOC community, you can sign up as a mentor for the Catalan Refugee Programme (PCR) by filling in the registration form. Over a period of eight months, which can be extended to a year, you will assist refugees in the process of discovering their environment, developing their language skills and finding employment.

Once you have signed up, the programme's technical team will arrange an interview with you to assess your application and, if you are suitable, you will be invited to a 12-hour training course.

You can take part as an individual or in a group and it requires a time commitment of 2 to 4 hours per week. For undergraduate students, the time spent on this voluntary work can be recognized with optional credits, up to a maximum of 6 ECTS (150 hours that go towards full participation in the PCR).

The activities of the UOC's welcome programme aim to contribute to making access to higher education easier and promoting diversity in the classroom, within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.