Two teams of UCL student volunteers have been making a big difference through their work with newly arrived Afghan refugees living in temporary accommodation in Camden.
The UCL Fun Team – who usually run play activities in local hospitals - have been keeping the Afghan children entertained and stimulated. Meanwhile, UCL Impact Initiative have been providing conversational English support for adult refugees.
Both the Fun Team and the Impact Initiative are supported through the Student-Led Volunteering Programme and moved quickly to adapt their existing projects, working in partnership with Hopscotch, a charity for women in Camden which has been bringing together local people and organisations to support the refugees.
Isabelle Terrisson, Head of Programmes at Hopscotch said, “The Fun Team have provided a space and opportunity for the children that they lacked and desperately required: to enjoy, be heard and express themselves in a safe, positive and creative way. Meanwhile, the Impact Initiative sessions have been informative and fun in equal measure. Moreover, every member of both teams has exemplified the best of humanity.”
Lakchana, one of the UCL Fun Team volunteers, told us, “Volunteering with Hopscotch has been an incredible and eye opening experience. Every week, I go and play with the children who are always so excited and happy to engage with us. It has been such a privilege to work with them and make a difference in their lives. I think a big bonus is all the amazing things they make for us! I have been gifted with a very cool pipe cleaner ring and a portrait of myself with my name written in Urdu. I am thankful to UCL Fun Team for this opportunity as it is always the highlight of my week to be part of such a warm, welcoming community."
Another volunteer, Bianca, added, "I have just started volunteering with the refugee families, but the thing that has left a lasting impression is how resilient these families are and how the children have coped so admirably with the adversity. I’ve seen how the children all show each other such kindness and understanding and it inspires me every week. It is such a privilege to help put a smile on their faces. I have so much to learn from the families and am very grateful to have the opportunity to volunteer with them."
Artemis, a volunteer with the Impact Initiative team, said, "The Afghan women inspired me. They were all so brave, hard-working, and optimistic, despite all the hardships that they have been through. I am honoured to have been able to help them. "
Find out more about volunteering on the Volunteering Service webpages.