Aileen’s volunteering story - Refugee Council

Aileen’s volunteering story

"I volunteered for the Refugee Council’s integration service, which supports newly-recognised refugees."

I would support clients on a one-on-one basis in the areas of health and wellbeing, financial stability, access to housing, access to education and access to suitable training and employment. This involved preparing for appointments, often in a team or under supervision, followed by a 30 minute to two hour appointment where I would discuss a client’s current circumstance and try to tackle their most pressing issues or follow up on ongoing concerns. Such issues could range from benefits issues to registering with a GP practice because the client did not speak English well

I most enjoyed working directly with clients. While this was sometimes challenging and required a level of emotional strength, I learned an abundance from these exchanges that I treasure dearly.

I remember an elder lady from the DRC I believe, who faced one serious issue after the other to the point where, I think, many others would have completely lost hope. However, week after week she would come to the office in the most colourful and beautiful gowns with a huge smile on her face thankful for the time we had to sit and speak with her. I learned that many a time it is not just the practical issues we tackle at the Refugee Council that help the clients, but the fact that we have the time to listen carefully and be there for the clients when they most need support. This holistic approach always gave me hope that even the most vulnerable clients could be supported meaningfully by the Refugee Council.

I would recommend volunteering with the Refugee Council to anyone interested in the wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers. Volunteering was an incredibly enriching experience that has shaped my career choice significantly and has taught me many a lesson that would not have been possible in any other work environment. While I did sometimes struggle with taking home the hardships of others, I was so well supported by my colleagues, that I have grown much stronger out of this volunteering experience.

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