“Whilst volunteering in Ikchung, I learnt a lot about cultural differences between people in the UK and Nepal. For me, I was most inspired by how warm and welcoming the community and my host family were, as well as the support and guidance they gave me, which made me feel a sense belonging within their community.”
When Jake returned to the UK, he was inspired to get involved in a refugee charity in Loughborough. BACA are a charity in the midlands that provides specialist support and accommodation for forced migrants between the ages of 16 and 18. His role involved being an ‘older brother’ figure in BACA’s homestays and providing general support for the young people.
“The opportunity appealed to me as Raleigh alumni, as my placement taught me the real importance of making people feel welcomed and accepted, and how that can boost confidence and morale.”
As a volunteer with BACA, Jake has been living in a BACA home with four young refugees from various countries. His responsibilities include relaying information to the BACA office, helping maintain the running of the house, helping if there are any issues and supporting safeguarding.
“Generally, I see my role as a cooperative housemate, an informal role model to the young people, and a friend with support whenever I can help. I felt I could excel in this role. From the experiences and lessons I learnt in Nepal, I was confident that I could make others feel welcomed and comfortable, just as my host family had done so for me.”
Before coming across BACA, Jake admits that he’d only heard about the refugee crisis on the news and had struggled to comprehend how he could make a significant difference to one of the largest human crises of recent times.
“Their world felt like a world away from my own. But now, as a volunteer with BACA, I feel that I can use my privileged position to support refugees first-hand with the rebuilding of their lives and become a part of their incredible stories. Their positivity, perseverance and determination is heart-warming and continues to inspire me.
Showing compassion and empathy on a personal level, to people from all walks of life you encounter, strengthens relationships and empowers other. Raleigh taught me that no one person can be the only hero. It’s team work and unity which creates real change. I am able to apply this thinking to the refugee crisis which will also need many hands behind it.
My efforts may feel minuscule in the grand scale of mass emigration, but I know it’s a step in the right direction and I encourage others to do the same. I believe if we want to create a real change, we have to act together. Just like turning off unused electrics or recycling a crisp packet can help combat climate change when done by everyone, I hope my contribution to supporting refugees can in some way support the wider work to tackle the refugee crisis.
If we are united and use our collective efforts to make a change, then we really can make a positive difference.”
Did your Raleigh placement inspire you to be an active citizen? We’d love to hear how you have made a difference in your home community. Get in touch and share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org