From the start of the training, I felt my depression begin to reduce. MVAP has helped me to get better and find relief. I get so much from helping other people…
I came to the UK as an asylum seeker from Egypt seven years ago. In Egypt, I had a job doing public relations in a company. Now I live alone here without any family. GMIAU helped me to get my refugee status, which happened four years ago. After that, most people I knew were through asylum seeker networks. I felt lonely and it is difficult to meet people. I have struggled with depression.
I wanted to give something back to GMIAU after they helped me and joined MVAP about 18 months ago. I wasn’t sure to begin with as I am quite shy and because I was feeling low in confidence. But they welcomed me. The course was fantastic and gave me a lot of experiences and knowledge – you couldn’t be a volunteer without it. There are a lot of things to learn about advice giving and also essential things like boundaries and safeguarding.
I know from my own experience how people suffer and how they struggle with language barriers and confidence, so I wanted to do immigration work. I know how people feel – I can read their face straight away. I also use the benefits knowledge as it helps me to signpost people and sometimes make calls for people. Because I speak Arabic I am able to help many people in their own language – from places like Syria, Libya and Sudan. They learn English but it takes a long time to feel confident. People are happy that I can speak to them – it makes a big difference to them.
From the start of the training, I felt my depression begin to reduce. MVAP has helped me to get better and find relief. I get so much from helping other people and I enjoy coming. I feel happy more than that I’m coming to do some work. I have built my confidence through this project. I have learnt a lot as well as improving my language skills. I go to English classes but that’s not enough, you have to also practice. I would one day like to work in this kind of field, and am thinking about going to university to study social work. MVAP will give me a reference, which will be needed. I know people who have got jobs from being an MVAP volunteer.
I have met other volunteers and built up friendships – the best way to make friends is to work with them, and bit by bit you get to know each other. MVAP have organised meals out, which is good and makes you feel like you have a new family here. I feel a part of society now – I belong somewhere and to other people.
This feels like the right place for me to be. I came from the dark to the light; it’s a long journey and I have something to give. It’s my life.