Standing with refugees


Standing with refugees

Eva O’Keeffe, reflects on her placement experience at JRS.

02 August 2022

Standing with refugees

JRS UK has had a partnership with the Social Work course at Trinity College Dublin for many years. Each student who comes on placement will have a different experience, and meet different people from the JRS Community and we always gain so much from them. Eva shares some of her highlights from her placement earlier this year – in 9 short weeks, Eva made an enormous impact!


I am a social work student from Trinity College Dublin and as part of my degree, I’m required to complete a 9-week placement at a community-based service. While searching for a placement, I came across the amazing work JRS does and wanted to be a part of it. I was also very keen to learn about the lived experiences, struggles and challenges facing asylum seekers in the UK.

JRS graciously welcomed me to their team, and I began my placement at the Hurtado Centre in May. During my time at JRS, I was a part of the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Accommodation Team. What inspired me most about JRS is the great teamwork, we all worked together to support one another and were able to provide assistance, care and advice for refugee friends. This really motivated me in my role at the centre, as I felt supported, encouraged, and inspired by every staff member and volunteer. I quickly noticed how dedicated and passionate the whole JRS team are about their work. It was clear to me that JRS staff, volunteers and refugee friends always enjoyed doing the little things together, such as having a coffee break and chatting about the meaning of their names. It is these things that I believe make JRS a community and a safe place for refugee friends to seek support and advice, away from the hostile environment created by the asylum system.

Every refugee friend I crossed paths with shone a light on the asylum system and the journey of an asylum seeker. Every person and their journey were unique, yet many shared experiences of trauma, discrimination, and poverty. It is not the same skewed image that the media usually presents to the public. Refugee friends have dreams, goals and aspirations for jobs, experiences, education, hobbies, and life in general. However, these goals and aspirations are difficult to work towards without refugee status – without any support from the government and the barriers they put to work.


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It was a privilege to meet many refugee friends who found ways to continue with their passions by attending creative writing and photography workshopsvolunteering at JRS or other centres, helping their local community, participating in ESOL classes, and much more.

In my opinion, their journeys clearly represent undeniable strength, resilience and hope for the future, which refugee friends still manage to hold, despite the hostile environment in the U.K.

Now that I have finished my placement and have had time to reflect, I feel extremely lucky to have received the opportunity to do my placement at JRS – to have met such incredible refugee friends, volunteers, and staff, and to have learned so much from them. I have truly enjoyed every moment I have spent at JRS. With this experience, I hope to continue standing with and advocating for asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and around the world.


We are always looking for volunteers to support our work at JRS

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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