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Refugee from Congo DRC: 
Now working for a big web-development company

At first I wasn’t interested in volunteering.  When you are on benefits you have to go far to understand how it can profit you to work for free, to give up your time.  But I saw myself losing the knowledge and abilities I had.  I realised I had to revamp myself. 

I volunteered at 3 different places and I enjoyed all of them. The people I met there, they are really open people.  I learnt about the English mentality, the etiquette of working with English people. You build up confidence and you realise that you can do it. I also ran the Sheffield Marathon in 2007.  Just start with 1 mile.   I found some challenges.  For example, when I worked with the homeless they sometimes used aggressive words, but you have just to smile.

When I got my status, I submitted my CV to the Jobcentre, a few websites.  I had a few calls. But it is not straightforward. You fail, you go there - refused.  It was really tough.  I think without the volunteering, absolutely I would have found this more difficult. But I am a fighter. And there is something about the volunteering; it puts you back in terms of confidence in what you’ve got.  It builds up your charisma, keeps the engine turning.  You keep up the momentum. 

I am now a web developer for a large company.  I work full time, so I don’t have so much time for the volunteering, but I am part of a local community group.  We do things to raise awareness about the situation in my country.

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