An employee of gas distribution company SGN in Horley is giving up his spare time to volunteer for the charity Young Roots and help young refugees and asylum seekers settle and make friends in their new communities.
Young Roots provides support by running regular youth groups, weekend and holiday activities.
Chris Jacobs, 27, who works as a digital development officer at SGN’s Horley head office in Station Approach, began volunteering for the charity in March 2015.
He said: “I first came across Young Roots when I visited the ‘Do-It’ volunteer website. I knew I wanted to work with young people and when I read about the experiences of these teenagers, I wanted to try and do my bit to help.
“In my interview with the charity they explained about the need to be sensitive around the young people, many of whom have lived through conflict in their home countries and had difficult journeys to the UK.
“It sounded quite challenging, but the opportunity to make a real difference to these young people’s lives also made it very appealing.
“I’ve helped out at various events the charity has organised over the last year and SGN’s Community Action Programme (CAP) means I can also volunteer at events during the working week.”
Under its CAP scheme, SGN gives every employee one day each year on company time to help out in their community and Chris recently took advantage of this to take some of the Young Roots teenagers for a day out at their local swimming pool.
He said: “We met in the park and played ball for a while, then we went to the pool. Apart from supervising the swimming session, my role was to help foster friendships between the kids and to encourage them to take part in the activities.
“Luckily, all of them knew how to swim, and when we found a couple of balls and started playing volleyball, they became really animated. It was incredibly rewarding to see them getting so much out of the day.”
Young Roots’ work includes helping young people in the Croydon and North London areas. For more information go to youngroots.org.uk