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Volunteers Week 2022 – Olena’s Story

Olena (name changed) arrived to UK in March after Russia-Ukraine war accelerated. She is from Ukraine and has lived for few years in Poland. She is multi-lingual and can speak Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and English.  Since arriving in the UK, she has already gone on a journey from volunteering, to earning a paid role at RMC.

A week after arriving in the UK, Olena started volunteering at RMC. She wanted to help others arriving from Ukraine as well as from other parts of the world.

“I just wanted them not to face what I had been through, and to be well informed about the process of documentation.” 

Olena spoke of the fact that in a new country, it is not surprising to find ourselves helpless at times, but social media can help us to feel included in the new community. Olena recommends that people need to open-up to people to get support. Although opening-up might be a challenge for some, but if we do not speak about our issues, how can we expect others to help us. Olena says, “it is important to open-up more in order to integrate with others in a new country.” 

Olena speaking from her experience shares that there are few challenges which migrants and refugees might face in the UK, with one of the biggest being the language barrier.

“Language unifies people and if we cannot understand the language of the country where we have moved, life becomes hard. We are anxious to ask people about time or location again and again. But if we follow social media or start watching movies in English, it can be a great help. Moreover, taking English classes can also help.” 

The other challenge we can expect is the cultural differences which are obvious. Olena urges others to mix with people where they live, look for volunteer opportunities and grab them because it will help us to understand the new culture, embrace it and go with it to help settle in a new place.  

When a paid role came up within RMC, Olena applied and having shown her skills and dedication during her volunteering, was successful and began her new role this week.

“Not to be afraid was the key for me towards my selection from a volunteer to an employee. There are mistakes we make, but we need to adapt quickly and stay focused. We might find it hard to stay focused every time, but we must try and we have to remind ourselves that we need to prove our skills to secure a position from a volunteer to an employee.”

Volunteers Week takes place every year and is a chance for organisations to celebrate the work volunteers do. For many years, RMC have taken part, but we do our best to ensure volunteers are recognised throughout the year also. Our volunteer and training manager Claire is always on hand to support, celebrate and showcase the amazing things the volunteer team achieve.

If you are interested in volunteering, see our volunteers page

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