“Refugee Action’s Experts by Experience team works to build a network of support and campaigning groups led by, and for, people with lived experience (Experts by experience). I have been a member for a few years and have made some incredible friends, including E.Amin. Earlier this year he became a Refugee Action Staff member and I got to speak to him about his new role and what it means to him.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your role?
I joined Refugee Action as the Expert by Experience Assistant in February this year. It was initially a part time and temporary position. I also had a role as an assistant on one of our services projects for three months. But I’m excited to share that in June this year I became full-time as the Expert by Experience Assistant.
Both you and I have spent time volunteering for Refugee Action and part of one of their Expert by Experience groups, RAS voice. Did this play a factor in why you wanted to become part of the staff team?
It’s definitely one of the things that encouraged me to want to have a career in this sector. I came from a very different area, I had 19 years experience in the commercial oil and aviation sector. Shifting to the charity sector was a big move, but I’d spent three years being involved with Refugee Action and RAS voice. I wanted to use both these experiences to build my new career.
Is there anything you’re particularly excited about in your role?
It’s all very exciting because this is my first proper and secure employment role after more than three years as a refugee in the UK. I’d applied for more than 100 jobs since getting my status.
I had been repeatedly told I was too overqualified because of my previous experience and career.
During those three years trying to find work I was part of RAS voice. I was earning a bit of money as a food delivery driver. But our RAS voice meetings were on Fridays and that’s the biggest day for delivery when I could earn the most money for my family. I would attend our RAS voice meetings from my car in-between deliveries. I needed to work wherever I could but I still wanted to be part of the group.
Thank you for sharing all of that I think it’s really impactful to hear.
The reality is that we do want to dive into things after being stopped from doing so many things in the asylum system for so long. But it isn’t always easy to do so. But now you’re working in a sector where the work is linked to your own family experiences. How do you stop this impacting your mental heath when everyday you are working with issues that affect people like us?
If you follow the news and the negativity on a daily basis then of course it can affect your mental health. From experience I have learned the importance of setting boundaries between my social life and work responsibilities.
What impact would you like to have in your time at Refugee Action?
I want people to see that the perception that refugees and people seeking asylum come here to take benefits is not true. We don’t come here for benefits, we have knowledge and experience we want to share.
When I started working I was able to stop my Universal Credit support. It felt great to do that.
I’d like to shout out my colleagues specifically in name Ana, Jonathan, Mohammed, the members of RAS Voice, and my other team Julie, Ella and Asma. I’ve learnt a lot from them and they have all supported my journey.
Thank you for Refugee Action for giving me that opportunity and accepting me as an employee.
“When Refugee Action called me and said that I’d been successful in getting the job it felt like such a successful moment for me. I cannot forget that moment.”