My name is Joaquin and I volunteer in the Children’s Panel of the Refugee Council. Maybe I should talk about my background – I am from Alicante, Spain. I am a qualified social worker but I have been working in a coffee shop. I was looking for an opportunity in U.K. and, as many times in my lifetime, the opportunity came to me. I met a customer in Starbucks who was working for the Refugee Council and I asked him about volunteering opportunities. The next day I had a contact telephone number and the week after that I had an interview with one of the managers of the Children’s Panel. As fast as that, as easy as that. If you are interested, just grab the phone and call, people here really need help.
So I have been working with the guys a couple of days per week since then (more than one month already, the time flies). How’s the job? If I have to use a word to describe my work here it cannot be other than AMAZING. Forget about the stereotypes of the voluntary job, you are not going to do photocopying all day long. What you are going to do is help other people. How? Easy question, however you want, however you can, however you like. That is the amazing thing of this voluntary job, you will assume as much responsibility as you like. Unfortunately the volume of work that we carry in the Children’s Panel is very high. Every little help is needed. Don’t forget that we are not talking about sales, we are talking about children. Specifically about children with real problems.
Imagine that you live in a remote area of Afghanistan, the war is devastating your country and you don’t feel safe. No hope, no life. You take the decision to leave your family, your friends, your city, your life and start a journey of hope, that is going to take you under the poorest conditions you can imagine (probably in a truck), through Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France until you reach the U.K.
Imagine that you arrive to the country where you were meant to have a new good life and instead, you find yourself inside of an extremely complicated legal process ( I can not understand it yet) which includes detention, age assessment, court hearings, etc… Imagine just for one second that you don’t speak a word of English, that you don’t know anyone, and that you can feel the rejection of a society that you don’t understand. Imagine, please, that you are that guy with that strange look in his eyes.
So that is what we do in the Children’s Panel, we help these children. That is why I think this voluntary job is AMAZING, that is why I am proud to be part of the Refugee Council.
Joaquin, Refugee Council Volunteer