Why did you want to become a volunteer?
I’ve been passionate about community development all my life and have worked in this sector for the past six years in India. While doing my Masters, I wanted to enrich my learning experience by volunteering with an organisation in the UK while simultaneously doing my bit for the community.
How would you describe your role?
I work as a Refugee Integration Advice volunteer with the Refugee Council in Stratford. I support people who have recently received their refugee status to access their benefits and entitlements as well as help them in integrating into UK society. I normally volunteer one full day a week and sometimes two days.
What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?
I feel like I’ve helped some of the most vulnerable people in London access their basic entitlements and supported them in integrating into London’s multicultural society.
What impact has volunteering had on you?
Volunteering has helped me connect with people who have seen immense hardships in life and are still going strong in overcoming them. They have been an inspiration for me personally, and also a humbling reminder of how privileged I am. I have also come to appreciate the extensive social security net that the UK provides for people facing vulnerabilities and distress.
I have learned to communicate with people using interpreters, and have managed to connect with them despite language barriers. I have also got a good understanding of welfare policies of the UK for people in distress and this knowledge will help me later in my career in this sector.
What’s the best thing about volunteering?
Creating genuine connections – with clients and my colleagues. Refugee Council has provided a great space where such connections can be made, while providing an excellent support system to help us do our work effectively.