Accepted paper:

The Community Sponsorship in the UK: A new space for volunteering humanitarianism

Authors:

Marisol Reyes (University of Birmingham)

Paper short abstract:

This paper compares the types of volunteering reported in some refugee camps in Europe, with the volunteering developed by the Community Sponsorship Scheme (CSS) in the UK. Humanitarian capital provided by CSS members creates new sources of agency and social activism in British civil society.

Paper long abstract:

Existing research on the support delivered in spontaneously formed refugee camps across Europe has been characterised as humanitarian because their distinctive characteristics. Primarily, the groups of volunteers operate independently from governmental institutions. Second, their work is mainly financed by donations from the public. Third, the internal dynamics of the volunteers are shaped by informality, creativeness, conviviality, and emotional gratification. Finally, volunteers' involvement in refugee support offers the potential for developing political activism. With the aim of expanding the analysis of grassroots' humanitarianism in the UK, this paper compares the types of volunteering reported in some refugee camps in Europe with the volunteering developed by the Community Sponsorship Scheme (CSS) in the UK. It is argued that although the CSS was created and implemented by the British Government, its volunteering replicates some of the humanitarian aspects observed in the refugee camps. The study analyses in-depth interviews conducted with fourteen CS groups located across the UK with the experiences of volunteers in The Jungle, Calais, France; Maximiliaan Refugee Camp in Brussels, Belgium; Milan's Hub, Italy; and Refugee Centre Athens, Greece.

panel AA12
Helping in an era of hostility: Political agency and moral contestations in civil society movements for and by migrants