Abdul (not his real name) is an electronics engineer from the Middle East with more than 19 years experience in managing and implementing Electrical, IT infrastructure and Industrial Instrumentations projects.
He worked as an engineer and manager for many telecommunication and engineering projects mostly for governments e.g. Hospitals and Universities but also for the private sector including commercial hubs, Hotels, airports and other institutions in countries across the Middle East and Africa.
His high profile work made him a target for persecution. When the harassment reached the point of directly threatening the life of his wife and children, he decided to leave his country and came to the UK to claim Asylum.
Since arriving in the UK in September 2012 Abdul went quickly on to look for means and way to remain active in the society. He came to the Volunteer Centre New Beginnings Project in February 2013.
Schools & Homes Energy Education Project:
We matched him with the Schools & Homes Energy Education Project to give him the opportunity to use his technical skills to help a local charity.
His duties included providing technical support to develop energy efficiency and renewable energy prototypes to be used for educational purposes. During his volunteering he built an off-grid solar system that demonstrates how solar power is used to generate electricity and accompanied the project manager on Radio in Sheffield to talk about renewable energy.
David Garlovsky, the Project Manager of Schools & Homes Energy Education Project said:
“I would certainly consider employing Abdul if we had the funding and he had permission to work”
South Yorkshire Energy Centre:
Abdul also volunteers with South Yorkshire Energy Centre. They aim to assist the public in cutting fuel costs, reducing carbon emissions, managing energy consumption and reducing their environmental impact. He gives guided tours and technical explanations of the organisation, sustainable buildings and renewable energy installations.
Using his own initiative, he developed and built a Children’s Energy Bike that generates electricity while pedalling. He worked with “Recycle Bikes” who donated a free bike for his project which enabled the project to be completed at a low cost. The bike has already been used at community fairs in Sheffield.
Sharon Smith form South Yorkshire Energy Centre said: “Abdul is enthusiastic & friendly...he helps us save money with his technical knowhow!”
To the right you can see Abdul volunteering at South Yorkshire Energy Centre giving a tour to a visitor and testing the Children’s Energy Bike that he built.
Volunteer Centre New Beginnings Project:
At the Volunteer Centre Abdul is an advisor on the New Beginnings refugee project where he helps other refugees and asylum seekers find volunteering opportunities. The benefit of volunteering is clear to Abdul: “I have been busy working for more than 19 years in my life and to stay at home doing nothing is like dying for me. Thanks to the New Beginning Project at VAS, I am now busy volunteering with many organisations.
“So far in my life, I have mostly worked with private businesses and governments, but through my volunteering I got to know more about community organisations. They educate the public on energy consumption and its effect on the environment”
Abdul is another case of the high level skills and experiences that sometimes refugees and asylum seekers can bring to the UK and how volunteering can help them remain in contact with their profession while waiting for a decision on their asylum case by the home office.