Today we met Georgina who joined BHN two years ago and who volunteers for our help team.
On her first weekend in Bristol, Georgina heard about BHN and decided to visit our Welcome Centre the following Monday, in order to discover the organisation and its members. On her first day, Georgina remembers asking: “What can I do?” and the answer surprised her: she did not have to do anything, she just had “to be”. So, Georgina practiced “being” in BHN for six months: she talked to people, she was alongside them, and then, she realised that she wanted to join the help team and have a more active role in the organisation.
Georgina’s role is very significant for BHN, as volunteering for the help team means having two jobs: giving practical help and being here in support for our members. All of this can be quite difficult because everybody’s case is very different and very complicated. Georgina has to help people with traumatic experiences, who applied for asylum and have been refused, people with no recourse to public fund, not able to work in Britain and, moreover, people who don’t have their family with them.
To illustrate her work for BHN, Georgina explained how she helped, over the last few weeks, three of our members to start the legal process of claiming for asylum. The first step seemed easy: getting an appointment in Liverpool. However, Georgina experienced the difficulty of small bureaucratic tasks. Our three members asked for her support after their solicitors tried to call for an appointment and gave up because they could not get any answer. Then, Georgina had to redial all day for three days until she succeeded in getting someone on the phone. Such a simple task can quickly become very expensive, frustrating and depressing for our members.
Photo: Penny Gray, Help Team Manager and a former member at our 2018 AGM.
Even if her work is very important for BHN, Georgina is very humble about her contribution: “I feel very pleased to be of very little help, I feel very well supported by our team, this help team is very supportive of itself and BHN has been very helpful in offering supervision”.
We are very happy to count Georgina among our volunteers; her work and the one of all the help team create an additional source of support for our members that makes a difference!