by Helen, volunteer for Women for Refugee Women

I had my first hip replacement in 2014 and, knowing that my normal busy life would have to be restricted for a few months, I emailed everyone I knew and asked them for suggestions about how to use this time most productively.

The long list that came back was amazing – random, creative, off-the-wall, serious… I can’t remember which of the ideas I did take up, except for one – a friend who was volunteering at WAST suggested that if I could make my way down to Old Street (one bus journey away), I might be of any general help…  So I did and met some of the other volunteers and workers and some of the women coming to drop-in classes.  I immediately loved the atmosphere and it soon became obvious the best use of my skills would be to help with the English classes (I’d been a teacher of English in a French secondary school for several years).

And seven years later (seven?? how can that be already?), I am still here, and I still love it (although obviously it’s going to be much better when we can do face-to-face classes again).

I love the contact with the wide range of amazing women are involved in the project.  The students never fail to amaze me with their resilience, warmth and commitment and I love to see them growing in confidence. The other volunteers and staff members are welcoming, efficient, and committed.  I really enjoy the intellectual challenge of designing classes that are appropriate for such a wide range of experiences and skill levels, that are challenging and interesting as well as informative. And there’s no greater thrill than when a student comes out with an expression or correct grammatical construction that we studied maybe weeks earlier.

I feel so privileged to have had this opportunity to be involved with WAST  – thank you to everyone involved.

This week is Volunteers’ Week! At Women for Refugee Women we are so grateful to our talented volunteers who share their time and skills with us each week, helping us to welcome and support our London network of over 350 refugee and asylum-seeking women. Each day this week we will be sharing one of our wonderful volunteer’s reflections, read the rest of this series here.