How did you feel when you were told you would be resettled in the UK?
When I heard that we would come to the UK at first it was the feeling that you’re having to leave your parents, your family, your brothers your friends and your place. But on the other hand there is the security for your kids, for yourself, the education and healthcare. And to know that where you’re going is a peaceful country. A safe country.
I don’t know what to say about my feelings, but it was really difficult at the beginning. After a little while, the people and the general atmosphere and the type of nature with the river is very similar to where I come from. The people were kind, similar to the people from where I come from. They were nice and welcoming, which helped. Where I come from, there is a river and the trees and it felt similar.
How have Refugee Council helped you?
Refugee Council have been with us since we came, up to now. They have been helping us. They have helped me with everything really. Everything I have asked, they have helped me with.
How has it been having your kids at home during Covid-19?
It is a bit upsetting, it’s my kids at the end of the day. For them I would want them to be moving forward but I think they’re going a bit backwards. There are some internet/online lessons and some written homework. Refugee Council are helping where they can. It has been very difficult to teach children at home because I don’t know the language very well so it would be very helpful if school could provide video or online lessons.
We heard that you’ve been helping the community at the moment, what have you been doing?
I have been contacting families, whether they are Syrian or British people. I have a good relationship with my neighbours. I have been getting some shopping for both Syrian and British. I go to the supermarket and collect medication for some people who need it. And I try to be careful because of the pandemic and I try to make sure it’s safe to do. Following all the precautions.
Why did you want to help during Covid-19?
Firstly, this pandemic, it’s a thing that the whole world is fighting and at least I could do some little things to help. Secondly, I have been living here 3.5 years and I’ve never felt like I’m a stranger here, so this is a little bit paying back to the community and to the British people.
There have been a lot of situations and things that have happened that have made me love people and Britain more. I can’t count them, there have been a lot.
What feedback have you received from the people you’re helping?
With social distancing, I can’t really stop and talk. I have to be quick and just leave things. I can interpret people’s expressions though to see that they’re happy. Some people were saying thank you and they can’t thank me enough. It’s my duty to do this though, I keep saying to people that they don’t have to thank me, it’s a little bit to just pay back to the community.
How has employment in the UK been?
I used to work in plastering and rendering, which is slightly different to here, the technique. And I used to do some painting and decorating and sometimes work with and help other tradesmen too.
I have been trying to work since I came to Britain. The thing is that you need qualifications and English. Where I come from you don’t need to have specific qualification for plastering and rendering. I’ve tried working with someone to prove myself.
How have things changed in the years that you’ve been here?
Things have changed since, we know our area and the areas around us. Our English has improved and we can ask people things if we don’t know. We can communicate. It’s easy. At first it was a foreign country, a new place to us. Luckily now things are a lot better and we can ask or enquire if we’re not sure about things.
There is a market near to here and after I’d only been here 10 days I thought I would be clever and go to the market to buy some olives. I bought some olives and worked out that I paid £40 for 1 kilo of olives! In Syria and Lebanon olives are really cheap, they’re called the ‘meat of the poor’ so to pay £40 was not good.
How do you feel about coronavirus?
I am worried in a way, like everybody is. What made me volunteer is to maybe reduce the amount of people going out and spreading it. If I can deliver to some people, that means that fewer people are going out.
I don’t like watching the news, but unfortunately this pandemic has made me watch the news.
What are your hopes for the future?
I want my kids to be educated and get to the targets that they’re wanting.
And for me, to continue living in peace in this country and to manage to get a little business started – self employment to support me and my family. At the moment we have our temporary residents visa but hopefully in the future if we get citizenship it will open more doors for us. Citizenship will give us more freedom and more opportunities.
Thank you for listening to me and for inviting me to this interview.