My name is Modeenat and I am a volunteer at Refugee Action’s Fresh Start project in Leicester.
I began volunteering more than 2 years ago. I was in the local library with my children when I noticed a group of women and children. It was a group called “Babies of the World” and was a Refugee Action project to help refugee women overcome cultural and language barriers and get out and about. I thought it looked great, so I began volunteering with them. In January 2011, the Fresh Start project was launched and after some training on the asylum process and support, I started volunteering there two days a week.
Fresh Start provides six month accommodation for destitute asylum seeking women whilst assisting them in exploring their options. When a woman is referred to the project, I go through a detailed assessment with them. This includes going through the practical details of living in the house, but also helps them identify any options they have in relation to a further submission on their asylum claim or the possibility of returning home.
It can be very emotional working with the women; sometimes one of them has a negative outcome and you feel very bad for them. Other times, they leave the house and have positive things ahead. I try and help them get linked in with social groups and activities whilst they are here. Helped by some volunteers, some of the women grow vegetables in the garden: spinach, gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb. We had an International Women’s day event here and it was wonderful – so much food and colour! Its a brilliant project and it’s very humbling having the chance to make a meaningful impact on someone’s very hard situation.
Posted by Eleanor Dean