I developed a strong interest in the refugee crisis while living in Berlin during my third year of university, and started to volunteer in the sector. When I graduated I was keen to continue volunteering, so I started searching for local opportunities – and Sanctuary in Chichester appeared straight away.
From my first meeting with Roger and a core group of volunteers, I felt an incredible sense of community, welcome and commitment to the cause. At this meeting I also met several young refugees who greeted me with beaming smiles and chatted to me as if we were lifelong friends.
After several months of volunteering, meeting new people in the community and learning about the organisation’s projects, I began interning with Sanctuary in Chichester as the Development and Communications Co-ordinator. This role spanned the whole range of SiC’s projects. While many tasks were admin and communications related, a large part of the role involved supporting the development of the language work and leading a team of “befrienders” for a newly arrived Syrian family.
Each day was different – you could find me at a drop-in session, updating social media, sending out emails and newsletters to the network, arranging and attending meetings, liaising with WSCC (West Sussex County Council) partners or visiting one of the refugee families. What I loved most was how varied the role was, and working in such a fast-growing organisation, adapting with the needs of SiC and its clients, was a very stimulating experience.
I was supported in my role by Roger Pask and Rebecca Zeman, who were committed from the start to advising and guiding my work, as well as encouraging my own personal development. It was amazing to see such incredible generosity and kindness from the many volunteers I worked with; a genuine desire and commitment to help was palpable in the community. It became clear to me that each individual has something different, yet so valuable to offer to the cause of helping refugees.
For me, the most important thing about my internship was the cause itself; the positive impact I was able to help facilitate in the lives of refugees in and around Chichester. It was incredibly humbling to work with such strong, capable and positive people who have been through unbelievable turmoil in their lives, but are determined to build a new life here.
The huge range of skills I developed during my internship with Sanctuary in Chichester will be invaluable for my future masters course and career. The generous bursary I received from SiC has allowed me to study an MSc in Global Migration at UCL, and my aim is to continue working with and for refugees long-term in the future.