We were recently delighted to catch up with Janet who you can see interviewed above.
Janet, originally from Yorkshire, returned last year from working in China for 14 years and was keen to volunteer, and a friend told her about Herts Welcomes Refugees. Below she tells us how she set up English classes for children in a hotel in North Hertfordshire, what motivates her to volunteer and how she has found volunteering with Herts Welcomes Refugees.
What is your background?
I lived in Yorkshire with my husband and family and moved to China about 15 years ago. I am a teacher and taught in China for 14 years. I taught Kindergarten (reception) aged children. Mostly Chinese children but also other nationalities.
How did you hear about Herts Welcomes Refugees?
When I returned to England a year ago, I had a desire to help in the community maybe by volunteering in a school. When I mentioned this to my friend at church. She recommended I talk to another friend who was already volunteering for HWR. We chatted with her and she explained a little about the charity and what was required in the local hotels and I thought I would be able to help.
What does your volunteering involve?
After the induction with the charity, I was able to go into the hotel and set up an “English class”. It involved teaching the children who are in the hotels and not yet in school. I helped with language and the skills required for school. It involved preparing lessons for the children, including songs, activities, videos, vocabulary exercises, games. We were able to get kind assistance from a local charity shop who donated notebooks, crayons, pencils and books for the refugees. We set up a library so they could take a book one week and return it the next week. Next term I would like to set up an after-school club with the help of other volunteers.
What do you like about volunteering with Herts Welcomes?
I try to put myself in their shoes and help if I can in some small way. It is always fun to be with children and see them excited and gain confidence especially when they have come to a new country and had a very unsettling experience. It motivates me to want to help in the community. By working with HWR it also gave me a support system around me as I volunteered rather than just trying to do something on my own. The charity provides a safeguard and a team that I can turn to at any time.
What support do you get from Herts Welcomes Refugees?
I have received support from the charity every step of the way. Whether it be from emails of information, or posters, or actual physical attendance at the classes. My Area Convenor Veronica supported me every week with the library we set up for the children.
I would recommend to anyone to volunteer with Herts Welcomes Refugees.
Thank you Janet, it has been lovely talking to you and we are so pleased you are able to help local asylum seekers in this way.