Volunteer to help former refugees

Our Refugee Support Volunteers do an extraordinary job and are a core part of the services we offer to former refugees.

We love our Refugee Support Volunteers

Our Refugee Support Volunteers are a friendly face and supportive guide. After training, volunteers begin their placement with a newly arrived family or individual. They work in teams to provide support and often find they become good friends with their team members. Teams are decided upon volunteer availability. We also try to match people with complementary skills.

Volunteer tasks may include:

  • Setting up a home for a refugee family/individual before they arrive
  • Helping the family enrol with schools and doctors
  • Budgeting, shopping and how to use an ATM machine
  • Showing the family how to use public transport
  • Social visits
  • Generally explaining how things work in New Zealand.

Hear from Refugee Support Volunteers Bob, Frances and Emma on what it's like to set up a home for a former refugee family:

Hear from the Loulou family, former refugees, about their experience with their Red Cross Refugee Support Volunteer:

Time commitment

The first two to four weeks of a placement are generally the busiest, filled with initial appointments and settling in tasks. After the first six weeks, less time is required as the family becomes more settled. By this stage volunteers typically spend time with their family or individual on a weekly basis.


All Refugee Support Volunteers take part in our comprehensive, multi-day training and are expected to attend each session. Training programmes are run in each of the settlement areas at varying times throughout the year. Volunteers also receive mentoring and support throughout their placement.

Each training programme covers a range of topics including:

  • An introduction to the refugee experience
  • The role of the refugee support volunteer teams and teamwork
  • Refugee health, well-being and education
  • Key support services
  • Culture

Upcoming training schedules

  • Upcoming training schedule - Blenheim

  • Upcoming training schedule - Dunedin

  • Upcoming training schedule - Hamilton

  • Upcoming training schedule - Nelson

  • Upcoming training schedule - Palmerston North

  • Upcoming training schedule - Wellington

Training schedules for the rest of the country will be published soon. Please enquire directly to your regional Service Centre below for more information. 

Contact details

For more information about volunteering in your region, please contact:

Media guide for volunteers (PDF)

Become a Refugee Support Volunteer

Volunteering is a fun and rewarding experience. Our refugee support volunteers help families start again, while learning about new cultures, meeting new people and changing lives (including their own!).