Refugees only have 28 days to find housing and support themselves from the day that they receive their refugee status, leaving many individuals and families homeless and destitute.
I supported clients with welfare and homelessness applications, in their contact with local councils and the DWP, with school admin for their children, and ensured that they included the right supporting evidence with various applications. Ultimately, I helped clients understand processes in the British system and their rights within that system.
I found the work incredibly rewarding. Tough, but rewarding. Seeing someone who had been struggling with their mental health, sofa surfing or even rough sleeping, without any secure income for months, finally getting that decent flat, the welfare support they were entitled to, or proper care, was beyond amazing.
I often think about the clients that I worked with at the Refugee Council. You meet incredibly strong and brave individuals with fascinating life stories as a volunteer. My first client was a human rights activist in Afghanistan. She used to run an all-girls school and had been sponsored by Amnesty to flee from the Taliban to the UK.
If you can volunteer, do it. When you finally get to see the improved quality of life for a client who has faced a really tough time, that’s what really matters. And it might sound cheesy, but I can think of nothing more meaningful than knowing that you have done something that actually helped another person towards a more secure, dignified and happy life.