Refugee from Congo DRC:
Now working for a big web-development company
At first I wasn’t interested in volunteering. When you are on benefits you have to go far to understand how it can profit you to work for free, to give up your time. But I saw myself losing the knowledge and abilities I had. I realised I had to revamp myself.
I volunteered at 3 different places and I enjoyed all of them. The people I met there, they are really open people. I learnt about the English mentality, the etiquette of working with English people. You build up confidence and you realise that you can do it. I also ran the Sheffield Marathon in 2007. Just start with 1 mile. I found some challenges. For example, when I worked with the homeless they sometimes used aggressive words, but you have just to smile.
When I got my status, I submitted my CV to the Jobcentre, a few websites. I had a few calls. But it is not straightforward. You fail, you go there - refused. It was really tough. I think without the volunteering, absolutely I would have found this more difficult. But I am a fighter. And there is something about the volunteering; it puts you back in terms of confidence in what you’ve got. It builds up your charisma, keeps the engine turning. You keep up the momentum.
I am now a web developer for a large company. I work full time, so I don’t have so much time for the volunteering, but I am part of a local community group. We do things to raise awareness about the situation in my country.