‘The more you give the happier you feel’: Amira’s story
Amira* came to the UK with her husband and children for work four years ago. Since arriving here it has become unsafe for her and her family to return home.
Below, Amira describes the challenges she faced in rebuilding her life here and how volunteering with the charity has helped her strengthen links with her local community.
I heard about WTRRP two and a half years ago from one of my friends. First, I joined the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) class run by Marie-Jo Churchill and Andrea Hudson. I had the chance to practise my English, and just as important, the opportunity to socialise with others.
I think it can be extremely challenging for refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives and become a part of their new community. Some people are alone, unable to speak English and without any social networks. It is very important to meet other people and integrate into the community to avoid feelings of isolation, helplessness and loneliness.
Personally, my life had been turned upside down and I had very bad days. I am now a refugee (meaning the Home Office recognises that returning to my country would ‘lead to persecution on account of race, religion, nationality or political beliefs’), but I had been an asylum seeker for a long time. During these difficult days, the volunteers of the charity always supported me and helped me in different ways. They helped me to develop links with my community and form relationships through attending ESOL classes, parties and other events, and arranged social activities like trips to football games and museum visits for my kids which I can’t afford.
This is why I became a volunteer for the charity, I wanted to help those who are in the same situation as me. It’s very rewarding – I have noticed that even the smallest act of kindness affects someone’s life in the most profound ways.
But volunteering has helped me too. It is helping me strengthen my links with the local community and my social network. I have made connections and have cultivated friendships with other volunteers and clients.
I think volunteering increases self-confidence and provides a natural sense of accomplishment too. The more you give the happier you feel and I feel happier and healthier.