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Volunteering with a charity

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We are collecting information so that you will be able to find here:

  • A description of what volunteering for a charity  means
  • Practical advice and links for those who want to get involved
  • Personal testimonials from people who are already doing this
  • A contact-person
Working Mindfully in a Charity for refugees/asylum seekers and their families.

The charity is housed in a large old building and offers a place for people to get together with others who are in a similar situation, receive legal advice and help with benefits, learn English and participate in sports, arts and crafts. It is open to all ages, single people and families.

I have volunteered in two separate ways:

  1. Look after the children in the crèche so that the parents can go to English lessons.
  2. Offer an arts and crafts session for adults and children.

The work in both is often unpredictable and a bit chaotic, we do not know in advance who will turn up, whether our usual space will be available or will we have to improvise somewhere else, sometimes the parents don’t pick the children up on time etc.
I prepare by sitting quietly and following my breathing for a few minutes before leaving, and try to return to myself at quieter times during the session. During the art workshops I will make tea for the participants as an act of love, and try to take at least the first sip of my own tea mindfully.
It is very rewarding, some of the participants have been through terrible ordeals, and yet they are so positive and courageous. Offering them a chance to bring out their natural creativity and seeing what that does for their confidence is a huge reward in itself.

Anna Polya (aspirant)