“I was keen to do some volunteering as a way of making a contribution to the community. I also felt it was important to take some action to address racism.
Volunteering with Family Nest is a really positive experience. There is a great sense of community, of togetherness and social interaction. I worked as a lawyer, taught, raised a family and have all sorts of work experience. Still, I learned new skills at Family Nest, learned from the members of Family Nest and experienced a real sense of welcome and support.
For me, the most interesting part is meeting people from different countries and backgrounds. It has been a humbling experience and a privilege to meet people who have come to the UK as refugees or asylum seekers.
Two powerful moments volunteering with this group for me have included:
1) A member of Family Nest wrote a poem about her experience of being forced to leave her country. The poem was turned into a short animation by school children in Glasgow. Seeing the film at a public event was a very moving experience.
2) Family Nest ran some sessions about the Life in the UK test, part of the application for British citizenship or settled status. I was shocked by the questions which are obscure, largely irrelevant to current life in the UK, and overly focused on history and institutions of power.
Being part of Family Nest gave me a sense of making a positive contribution. I gained a feeling of belonging, and greater confidence in facilitating discussions. It is clear that many of the participants have made real progress in English proficiency and generally gained confidence; being part of the Family Nest has no doubt made a big contribution to that.
When we see people who are different from ourselves, whether because of their clothing, language or the colour of their skin, it is very easy to think of them as ‘other’. I would have been as prone to that as anyone else. Now, when I see people who are different from me, I very often make an association with MIN and Family Nest – my first response is a feeling of connectedness and welcome. I am also much better informed about those who come to Scotland as refugees and asylum seekers and about the challenges they face.
Family Nest provides an important social hub, allowing participants from many different backgrounds and cultures to come together, learn about the country in which they now live, learn from each other and obtain support and information from each other, from volunteers, MIN staff and the many other organisations who collaborate with MIN. It is a very important lifeline for participants.”