“I came along to MIN in the summer of 2019 and became a volunteer supporting the children’s activities; it was actually life-changing for me to have this experience. Before I joined MIN I didn’t have any confidence and I was on antidepressants. I would never have been able to ask to be a volunteer. I didn’t know it was something I could do, or even if I had the skills or energy to do it, but this initial connection, just volunteering for only 4 hours every week, in such a happy and friendly environment, it made a big difference to how I live my life now.
After the summer project I was so happy to know that there were more groups going on so I can keep volunteering for the family group and children’s sports sessions. Here at MIN it is welcoming, and all the children play with each other, my son especially needs this because he has Autism and he finds it hard to interact with other children. At school, my children can be left out, sometimes my children tell me other children won’t play with them because they are not Scottish, but all the children at MIN play together so nicely, it’s important and so good for them. Another positive thing is that I really improved my English, and improved my confidence. I was always feeling so shy and embarrassed about my English but it’s a lot better and now I like talking to other people and I understand more the Scottish accent!
The staff at MIN respect volunteers as part of the community and I never feel any discrimination here, I’m free from racist attitudes which affect my life so often outside of MIN and outside of my home. I had to stop wearing a headscarf because of the racist abuse I got in public and on the bus. My husband suggested I do it, to be safe, and wear different clothes so people don’t target me, I had to change my identity, it feels sad to do this but I don’t feel that I had a choice.
The welcoming environment here at MIN gives me a feeling a safety and acceptance. MIN is my favourite place. I came here first and then I told my husband. He comes to men’s group and some other projects too now. You can say it’s like our family, where we go, it comes at no cost to us financially and we can spend time with people, have fun and relax. I feel stress free here. I’m not allowed to work because I am an asylum seeker, and so it’s better to do volunteering here, help other people, better than being at home.
I will keep on continuing to be part of MIN and a volunteer here, mainly because it has increased my confidence. Before all I did was stay at home, for five, nearly 6 years I was at home, I was so depressed. When I started volunteering at MIN I was able to stop taking my anti-depression medicine.
I’m a much happier person now because every time I come to MIN I enjoy it. Maybe when I am allowed to work, once I get my leave to remain from the Home Office, I will feel more confident to apply for jobs, working with Scottish people, I understand the accent now! Or I would also do any other volunteering roles, I feel it’s something I can do now.
Everything here at MIN is positive. That’s why I keep coming. It makes me happy and I have more energy.“