Doing something for love is a true gift. I am volunteering as an assistant teacher at a charity in Lewisham that supports refugees, asylum seekers and minority ethnic communities. Action for Refugees and Asylum seekers in Lewisham www.afril.org.uk
I teach three days a week and, being me, have also taken on the task of writing their summer newsletter and helping out at fundraising events. Who knew I would be adding face painting to my skills portfolio! I have fun and work hard. I enjoy playing with the children of Chinese, African and Sri Lankan parents who all need the extra attention they get at the project. Now I often meet people I know when I am out and about on my local buses. I particularly enjoy the Talk Shop sessions. These are opportunities for people to practise using the English they already know and building on it. The learners are all keen to be heard! Some of them have come from early morning shifts as cleaners and will go back to work later. They smile and are keen to learn as much as they can so that they can improve their work prospects.
If you are thinking of changing career, volunteering is a great way to try something different. You may get opportunities to do training and invites to events where you represent your organisation. I have been to a report launch for another charity and also gained a unique insight into teaching ESOL the REFLECT way - a learner centred method drawn from International Development work. http://www.reflect-action.org/reflectesol
So it is Refugee Week 20-26 June and I have two invitations to look forward to. I now know more about the issues that refugees face and I am doing something to help make a difference.