Helen Thompson,

Youth Case Worker


I’ve been volunteering with CARAS since September 2016. I work in international development, and did a posting in Afghanistan and a stint working on the Syria refugee crisis.

After these experiences, and in the aftermath of the devastating Brexit referendum result, I was keen to do more both to support refugees that come to the UK from Afghanistan and elsewhere, and to show that our country and local communities are open and welcoming of people who are from different cultures and backgrounds.


I chose to volunteer at CARAS because it is a very professionally-run organisation that takes its safeguarding duties seriously and provides an excellent service, particularly to vulnerable unaccompanied child refugees and asylum seekers.

I volunteer as a youth case worker at the Saturday youth club, helping kids with anything they need including paperwork, their CVs and job applications, applying for things like free bikes, and generally checking in on their wellbeing to see if they need any further support outside youth club. I also like to join in with the games, homework support and meals that are offered during Saturday club. The atmosphere is wonderful, and it is a privilege to help and have fun with the kids.


Recently I helped an Afghan boy, who was facing a court hearing after his application for asylum was declined.

He’s about 16 years old. I worked with him to write up a reference letter from CARAS – this gives him a sort of ‘character reference’ from a group that has seen him socialising with his peers and can vouch for him as a friendly, sociable, helpful individual.

The letter helps demonstrate that he is an active member of the community and making an effort to integrate with people from other backgrounds.

The letter also offered for a member of CARAS staff to attend the hearing to provide moral support. He and his lawyer really appreciated this extra support for his case and I was glad to be able to help.