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Pandemic Volunteering Stories – Mehmet and Arjola, Welcome Mentors with Third Sector Leaders Kirklees

When did you start volunteering?

Before I came to the United Kingdom, I used to work as a teacher in the country where I lived. I used to spend some of my time regularly doing voluntary work. Because I know how nice it is to do gratuitous favours for others, I looked for ways to do volunteer work, and I believe that those who do good will find the good.

What do you do as a Welcome Mentor?

We started volunteering in January 2021 as Welcome Mentors, helping refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to settle in Kirklees. My wife and I are bi-lingual, and in our volunteer role we are actively supporting individuals and families, carrying out welfare checks, translation work, providing buddy calls to people in need and helping people to settle in Kirklees. We have helped families register a birth and enrol their children at school.

What have you found rewarding or memorable about your experience?

We had very special memories during our volunteering and we have learnt a lot. It helped us adapt quickly to living in Kirklees, and we feel like we’ve been living here for a long time now.

We have received lovely feedback when we help with interpreting. I cannot tell you how happy people are when we ask, “Welcome to Kirklees, how can we help you?” especially to someone who is new to Huddersfield and whose language we know.

We have elderly neighbours where we live in, and we introduced ourselves and asked if they needed anything. Thanks to this, we have developed very good friendships. It was a pleasant surprise when a neighbour knocked on our door and came to visit us in the garden. They showed us how beautiful it is to remember and be remembered.

Find out more

The Welcome Mentor programme is run by TSL Kirklees and is supported by around 90 Volunteers who speak over 50 different languages. Over the last year, Welcome Mentor Volunteers have been matched to 372 families and individuals offering support by telephone. During the pandemic they have translated important key messages about covid restrictions, testing and vaccinations, as well as signposting to support services. You can find out more about the Welcome Mentor programme here: https://tslkirklees.org.uk/specialist-help/migration-team/welcome-mentors/

Interested in becoming a Welcome Mentor? Apply here: https://volunteering.tslkirklees.org.uk/job/telephone-welcome-mentor/

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Covid-Safe Volunteering

If you are volunteering in lockdown, please make sure that you are staying safe and are up-to-date with the current rules and guidance.

From 29th March, you should continue to volunteer from home where possible unless you cannot reasonably do so. You can leave home to volunteer if you are not required to isolate for any reason. Please make sure that you are following the guidelines to stay safe.

From 12th April, we move to Step 2 of the Government's lockdown easing roadmap.  This is when charity shops, libraries, and community centres can reopen, and cafes can serve people outside, which will mean that more people will be volunteering outside their homes and we may start to get more new volunteering opportunities.

If you are looking for a volunteering role, please visit our I Want To Volunteer page.

Find out more about the lockdown rules for volunteering