Guidelines for Volunteers

Code of conduct for DCU volunteers

The Irish Refugee Integration Network’s capacity to ensure the protection of and assistance to refugees, international protection applicants and other persons of concern depends on the ability of our volunteers to uphold and promote the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct. The DCU volunteers are personally and collectively responsible for maintaining these standards and expected to act in accordance with the principles and values outlined below.





  • Volunteers are expected to treat every person with decency and respect, respecting the human dignity of each person without any distinction or discrimination based on nationality, race, ethnicity, tribe, gender, religious beliefs, political opinion, sexual orientation, or disability
  • Volunteers should be respectful of the customs and habits of the beneficiaries
  • Volunteers should take into consideration the difficult experiences that refugees, international protection applicants and other persons of concern have faced and survived and avoid proactively asking questions that could trigger trauma
  • Volunteers should always seek to care for and protect the rights of the most vulnerable and act in a manner that ensures that the best interests of the beneficiaries are of the paramount consideration
  • Volunteers should listen actively and moderate their words before speaking to avoid any misinterpretation or misunderstanding
  • Volunteers should prioritise safety and integrity of the beneficiaries by ensuring all interactions are safe, appropriate and sensitive to the feelings of beneficiaries



  • Performance of voluntary work should always be based on a non-racist, non-discriminatory and gender sensitive conduct.
  • Personal views, behaviour and beliefs, including political and religious convictions, of volunteers should not adversely affect the voluntary work and activities.
  • Volunteers should not make promises that they cannot fulfil or provide counselling or legal services unless they are qualified to do so.
  • Volunteers should consult with those in charge of the activities whenever they are unsure what to do or how to proceed. 



  • Volunteers have the obligation to respect and uphold confidentiality of information obtained from beneficiaries or any other person involved in voluntary work. The duty of confidentiality may be terminated only with the explicit consent of the beneficiary. The duty of confidentiality continues even after the end of voluntary work, unless provided otherwise. The duty of confidentiality does not apply to information that has been disclosed with the beneficiary’s consent.
  • Volunteers are not allowed to share personal details or contacts of beneficiaries with third parties, unless an explicit consent was provided by the beneficiary.


Some basic principles:


Avoid questions that might trigger trauma or hurt

Why did you leave your country?

What are your plans?

What is the current situation in your home country?


Everybody’s experience in unique to them

Avoid comparing situations 

Avoid making assumptions


Respect privacy

Avoid personal questions; instead, be guided by what beneficiaries wish to self-disclose 


Manage expectations

Be aware of what you can and cannot offer


Be sensitive to cultural differences


Ensure that your body language and physical actions are culturally sensitive

Respect space between you and your interlocutor

Avoid direct physical contact, as appropriate

Be mindful of eye contact 


If you don’t have the answer to specific questions, do not venture a response or guess. Refer to either specific links of persons who might have the answers.