Working with migrants and refugees can be challenging as often one just can’t accept the horror of what people survived in their countries of origin and how badly they are treated by our government and the media, constantly stereotyped and perceived as a threat. But there is also more positive side to what we do – people’s stories of survival and struggle for justice are inspirational and humbling, but the stories of our volunteers are real gems. Every year we have a fortune to meet and work with more than 100 volunteers from all walks of life, all ages, genders and creeds. This super diverse bunch of great human beings makes our work not only possible, but also meaningful.
There are many ways for volunteers to get involved. A few weeks ago one of our volunteers, went along with a single mum of three to a meeting with a Housing Department in one of the Inner London Boroughs. She was granted full refugee status and as a result she has to leave accommodation provided by the Home Office and she and her three kids are now homeless. Our volunteer phoned our office in shock as the Caseworker who was supposed to help the homeless family declared in front him and the children that the mother can go and sleep at the bus stop and children will taken into care. Luckily, we had a pro-bono lawyer (another volunteer) in the office that day, who was able to advise him what to do and say. What the Caseworker said was not only cruel but also not true, but how is a homeless refugee single mum supposed to know that? If our volunteer was not there that day with this family until 8 pm they would have ended up homeless. Although he was in a complete shock at the most appalling way these local authority officials behaved, our volunteer remained calm and polite and managed to help the family avoid homelessness. He kept telling us of his shock as he witnessed the most brutal lack of empathy and prejudice by the staff who are supposed to be there as a safety net for all of us. This is not the first time, and sadly not the last time that safety net failed people in need, but thankfully, the great people of Britain have volunteered to step in, and provide safety net when all else fails. The refugee welcome in action.
Last year 107 volunteers contributed to our work in a number of different ways. If you have time and skills and feel passionately about justice and dignity for all migrants and refugees please come and volunteer at Migrants Organise.
Call us (020 8964 4815) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.