Meet our endlessly energetic volunteer Sam
This is Sam. She’s an amazing person, and a huge inspiration to us all at Care4Calais. And she runs a team doing incredible things for refugees.
Sam’s our lead volunteer for Reading where, as well as helping with refugees’ needs and problems, she organises loads of activities, from basketball matches to boat trips.
One particularly brilliant thing she and her team do is to set up small committees of refugees who help sort and distribute donations for others in their area. “It empowers people,” she says, “and we always try to do that. Because we want people to be be able to gain independence, integrate and regain feelings of self-worth.”
She started volunteering for Care4Calais two years ago, and was inspired by a refugee she met soon after that. “He was a runner from Ethiopia, and we met at an athletics club I go to. It was Christmas, and he’d just been moved to Reading but had no money, and wasn’t getting any from the Home Office so he had nothing to eat. I hated the idea of someone coming to where I live and going through that.
“I remember something he said to me as we were helping him get sorted out. I said, ‘Well, don’t worry, you’re safe now,’ and he said, kindly, ‘People always say that to me. But I’ve been waiting five years for my claim, and I won’t feel safe until it’s settled. How can I sleep when I know I might not be allowed to stay?’ These words have stayed with me and continue to guide me.
“I always try to remember now that refugees have to cope with that uncertainty, and it’s impossible to feel really calm and safe until they have leave to remain.”
Sam has a big team of volunteers who work very hard, and show the same wonderful empathy as she does. She thinks they embody the Care4Calais principle of being flexible and all about individuals. “Which is really important, because there are so many different nationalities, and people have had so many different journeys and experiences. We try to tailor our help to individuals, as everyone’s needs are distinct.”
Running a business as well as being a lead volunteer means she’s extremely busy (we don’t actually know how she does it). Every day she deals with between 20 and 30 enquiries. “It’s a huge emotional rollercoaster,” she says. “Every day you go through a whole rainbow of emotions. You might be helping to write an appeal, trying to correct a Home Office mistake, or helping someone contact their family in Africa, who they’ve lost contact with.
“But then you get a lovely message saying that someone has been given asylum, and they can stay. And then your heart just soars, and you feel how important it is that we do what we do.”
The world needs more Sams – and so do we! To volunteer with Care4Calais email [email protected]