Mila's Refugee Week Blog

Mila visited our Volunteer Portal looking to get involved over a month ago. Coming originally from Bulgaria, she graduated from the University of Strasbourg with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in earth science before moving to the University of Liverpool to complete a PhD in geology and organic geochemistry. For the last six weeks, Mila has been helping out at Age Friendly Salford's Tech & Tea sessions; using her expertise to help older people in the area get to grips with the fundamentals of technology. Crucially, Mila is also in the process of taking on a Ukrainian family fleeing the war in Eastern Europe. We invited her in to hear her story and learn about her background, passion for volunteering and why she believes it is so important to support refugees and asylum-seekers today. 

Mila's Volunteering Background

Mila shared some stories about her time growing up and the important role volunteering has played in her life so far

"I grew up in Bulgaria in one of the poorest regions in the European Union. When I moved to university in France, I wanted to do something useful that I was also passionate about. I spent my summers volunteering in wildlife conservation. I would also help out in an animal shelter at the weekend - it was my job to clean out the cat's toilets! When I got to Liverpool, I helped deliver open days for the university, as well as partaking in 'Green School'; a scheme with local primary schools in which we helped students carry out green projects. I love being outdoors and I love helping, so volunteering is very important to me."

Tech and Tea and Volunteering in Salford

We asked Mila about what drew her to volunteering with Salford CVS, and her role at Tech & Tea

"I moved to Irlam the weekend before the announcement of the first lockdown, so I struggled to get to know the city at first. Since then, I started to volunteer at the Trussel Trust foodbank in Irlam once a week. For the past 5 weeks,  I have helped deliver 'Tech & Tea' at the local library in Irlam. We provide members of the group with tablets and help train them to use their devices in a variety of ways whilst also staying safe online. I've been volunteering since 2010, and I love helping old people connect with one another through technology; when older people learn something new, their eyes light up like a kid at Christmas! I first volunteered at university, and I find it helps to give back. Volunteering gives you a purpose; it makes you feel useful when you're contributing to your local community."

Supporting Refugees from Ukraine

Mila spoke to us about her thoughts on supporting refugees and what ordinary people can do to help

"My family and I are working to house a Ukrainian family fleeing the war. We are hoping to meet them within the next couple of weeks, but we have struggled to navigate the government's visa application service. Our children are of similar ages, so we hope that they can play together. We donate toys and clothes when we can; after the arrival of refugees from Afghanistan last year, I would make donations at the local Tesco Express. I now donate at the local fire station for Ukraine. For many days, they received lots of donations, but after a few weeks, they told me that I was the first to give in a long time. It is important not to forget about these people after their stories leave the news."

I asked about the significance of inviting another family into her home given the ongoing cost of living crisis

It is a terrible situation, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. We are in a position to help so we thought that we should. There are so many Ukrainian families looking for homes in the UK; they are appealing on Facebook groups and trying to use the government's asylum service - many of them will not be successful. This feels like the best thing we can do."

If you would like to find out more about Refugee Week and how you can get involved, please visit our dedicated webpage here. And if you'd like to find out more about volunteering, please visit our Volunteering Portal

 

Salford CVS
Author: 
Sam Bate-Francis

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Mila visited our Volunteer Portal looking to get involved over a month ago.

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