Supporting Refugees and Local Communities in New York

Opportunity type:

Ref: 10003685


All current DMU students are eligible to apply for this opportunity. The maximum number of places for this trip is 20 and the minimum the trip will go ahead with is 10. DMU staff will be accompanying the group.

DMU students are only eligible to receive one extra-curricular trip bursary per year. Please check our eligibility criteria for further details.


This trip is intended to harness student’s skills and expertise further by transferring knowledge with organisations that are supporting local communities through outreach programmes in New York. We will be focusing on outreach programmes which support refugee and homeless communities in the city.

Students will be required to attend a pre-departure session where we will discuss the issue of homelessness and current issues relating to refugees and asylum seekers both here in Leicester and in a wider global context. We will also offer students the opportunity to visit local outreach projects ahead of the trip to maximise the opportunity to learn about the issues before travelling to New York in May.

Once in New York students will have the opportunity to engage with and volunteer at three key partner organisations and planned activities may include:

  • RDJ Refugee Shelter Harlem: Students will spend a day delivering community activities at the Shelter as well as learning about the shelter’s history and outreach projects.
  • Columbia University: Community Impact Volunteering Emergency Food Program: DMU students will volunteer alongside Community Impact coordinators and volunteer staff to help support their weekly Food Pantry. Fresh food and dry goods, donated by community groups is provided to neighbourhood families, homeless individuals and the elderly. Community Impact serves individuals in need in the communities of Upper Manhattan while providing meaningful volunteering and leadership opportunities for students at Columbia University, which will provide an additional peer-to-peer engagement opportunity for participants.
  • Broadway Community Inc – The Soup Kitchen: Students will help serve meals with the Broadway Community and ensure their guests receive good, quality support. Broadway Community depends on the critical contributions of volunteers: regular and infrequent, those from West Harlem and throughout New York, as well as groups from around the country. Students will make valuable contributions to their work and will have the opportunity to get to know guests of the kitchen and get involved in the wider struggle to end poverty and homelessness.
  • Refugee Resettlement Service – Dignity packs: Based at the Catholic Charities Community Services in NY City, our students will get a thorough insight into the current climate for immigration and how refugees are settled into the community. As part of the activity the students will be making welcome packs for new arrivals, made up of essential toiletries and placed in decorated canvas bags with messages of welcome from the students.

Students will be encouraged to document their experiences through blogging, vlogging, photography and/or podcasting. Upon returning, students will be required to deliver a short presentation of their experience to members of the Directorate of Social Impact and Engagement.

As DMU are the UN SDG Global Hub for SDG16, we will aim to organise a half-day event for students to reflect on their experience and their vision for how DMU can work towards SDG 16 through local projects based on their learning. We will also visit the UN Headquarters for a tour and learning more about the UN SDG 2030 agenda (subject to security clearance)

Cultural activities

As well as organised volunteering activities, you will have the opportunity to explore some of New York’s most famous and exciting landmarks, venues and districts. There will be opportunities to go up the Empire State Building, visit Liberty Island, ascending to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, as well as stopping off at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

You will also have an opportunity to walk the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge and experience the buzz of Times Square and the beauty of Grand Central Station.

Travel and Accommodation

Travel and accommodation for this opportunity will be booked by DMU Square Mile, and students will be expected to pay the full amount following confirmation of their place.

Contact details

Visa information

In order to participate in this trip, you are responsible for ensuring that you meet the US immigration requirements.

All students will require an ESTA or some kind of visa to travel to the USA. Further information will be provided to all accepted students regarding the type of visa required and how to apply. If you have any specific questions about this please email for advice. Please note that you are responsible for checking processing times and meeting all application requirements in order to ensure that you receive your visa prior to departure. Please be aware that immigration decisions are made by individual embassies.

Key Information

  • Departure date: Saturday 23 May 2020
  • Return date: Saturday 30 May 2020
  • Estimated cost of travel, accommodation & transfers: £900
  • Students will also be required to pay for: food & drinks, transport (i.e. metro), entry fees, and visa (if applicable)
  • DMU Global bursary: £400
  • Deadline for applications: Monday 10 February 2020 9am