HOW DID YOU START VOLUNTEERING?
I have been volunteering as a Welcome Mentor for about six months, my Brother-in-law told me about the project and I was pleased to help. Welcome Mentors help refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to settle in Kirklees and support them in accessing services and integrating into the community.
I came to the UK in November 2018 so I thought it would be a good chance to be part of the community, help others and get to know more people. I speak Albanian, English and some Italian and Spanish.
I found the training for the Volunteer role really enjoyable and I got to know lots of people from other countries as well as Christine and Steffi who manage the project.
WHAT DOES A WELCOME MENTOR DO?
I have been helping an Albanian lady who came to Huddersfield in January with her son, I have been speaking frequently with her and helped her to complete forms from the Council, translate documents and accompanied her to the opticians so she could order her son glasses.
HOW HAS THE CORONAVIRUS CHANGED YOUR VOLUNTEERING?
I have been speaking with lots more Albanian ladies via the telephone to make sure they understand the guidelines. I have helped them access gp appointments, and I regular call a lady who is pregnant to see if she needs any help.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING?
Volunteering fulfils me, I feel good helping others and communicating with Steffi (the Co-ordinator). I am a trained Dentist from Albania, but I am not yet able to work in this profession until I have received my dentistry licence for the UK. Volunteering helps me a lot, it makes me feel more alive, like I am doing something worthwhile,
Steffi the Volunteer Co-ordinator for the Welcome Mentors project added:
“Antida has also proved to be a volunteer who will go out of her way to support in any way that she can, she is currently supporting 2 single parents through this difficult time. One of the families is expecting a baby soon, Antida calls her and speaks with her in Albanian to check that she is ok and to make sure that she has everything that she needs, which helps her to feel less isolated and allows us to be able to report back to the organisations that have referred the customers and reassure them that they are being well supported, we are lucky to have Antida, she is compassionate and always keen to support in any way that she can.”
The Welcome Mentor scheme have 70 active volunteers speaking 45 different languages. 20 of these volunteers were recruited during the Coronavirus pandemic as Telephone Befrienders.
Find out more about the work of the Migration Team at TSL Kirklees here
Interested in becoming a Welcome Mentor? More information here.