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Restore  – Celebrating 25 years

2024 marks 25 years since Restore was started by people from churches in Edgbaston and Ladywood to support Kosovan refugees arriving in Birmingham and also asylum seekers accommodated in our city under the then Government’s new policy of asylum dispersal. They started a one-to-one befriending scheme which was a practical response to the call of Jesus to welcome the stranger. Restore was adopted as a project of Birmingham Churches Together in 2000.

Whilst we celebrate Restore’s founding 25 years ago, this is also an opportunity to celebrate all the work of Restore since then:

  • All the refugees and asylum seekers who have benefitted from befriending or our group social activities
  • All the volunteers and staff who have offered befriending support and who have gained and learned so much from those they’ve met
  • The befriending relationships that have become enduring friendships
  • The individuals and families who have settled and progressed towards integration

Over 25 years, we’ve collected comments from refugees and volunteers that give an insight into the impact of befriending relationships.

Refugees have written the following: “Restore got me a befriender and we coincidentally shares the same hobbies and interests.  She has been like family to me and has offered a shoulder to lean on.  My life has changed drastically and it has made me realise that without organisations like Restore, life would be doomed to many in my situation.  I can never thank them enough.” 

“Befrienders are excellent at providing the invisible things like just showing you around, being a friend, providing company, giving you a feeling of normal life.”

A volunteer wrote,  “This is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. It is a real privilege to be alongside and get to know someone as they seek to build a new life for themselves in the UK. I am constantly impressed with his courage and determination. I don’t think I realised how many challenges face asylum seekers. Every time progress is made, there then seems to be another fresh set of problems and challenges to overcome.”

A recent survey of befriended refugees and asylum seekers gave the following feedback

100% replied that meeting their befriender had helped them feel more confident

97% replied that meeting their befriender had helped them feel less lonely

94% replied that meeting their befriender had helped them feel more welcomed

94% replied that meeting their befriender had helped them improve their English

94% replied that meeting their befriender had helped them learn about Birmingham and life in the UK

As we look ahead, beyond our 25th anniversary milestone, there is no question about whether our counter-cultural work of welcome and integration is still needed. Restore will continue to work towards the following aims.

  • To combat loneliness and isolation
  • To build relationships, make friendships and social connections.
  • To improve conversational English
  • To help with understanding life in the UK
  • To improve mental health and wellbeing

Restore will continue to campaign for a fairer and more compassionate asylum system particularly through our membership with the Together with Refugees coalition and their ‘Fair begins here’ campaign.

We are looking for more volunteer befrienders,  and more grants and donations to ensure that Restore continues to respond to the call of Jesus to welcome the stranger in our city in the year and years ahead.

You are very welcome to join us for our 25th Annual Celebration on Wednesday 3rd July 2024 at St Martin in the Bullring Church at 7.15pm!  We’ve so much to celebrate!

For more information about befriending please contact

To donate, please click HERE.

To discover more about Together with Refugees campaign, please click HERE.

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