Listening to the voices of our beneficiaries and volunteers

Melanie Berard Melanie Berard

These are my last days in the job after almost two years working for TimeBank. It has been a real treat to be part of an organisation that values and nurtures its volunteers as much as it excels in supporting its beneficiaries: refugees, asylum seekers, Muslim women and ex-servicemen, to name a few, across different parts of the UK. And TimeBank has also excelled in supporting me as a member of staff.

Two years ago, I was given the opportunity to carry on working with refugees, here in London, when I became project co-ordinator for RISE, a refugee mentoring programme.

RISE was funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Building Better Opportunities European Social Fund programme and ran from July 2017 to December 2019. TimeBank’s role on this exciting project was to recruit and train volunteers as mentors to support refugees through the challenges of looking for employment and working in a new place with perhaps different professional and cultural norms.

Later, the TimeBank team supported me in following my personal interest in recording people’s experiences and to develop new skills. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, I have spent the past six months compiling a series of recordings to share with you as part of our TimeBank Voices project.

This is an opportunity for you to hear the voices of some of our volunteers and beneficiaries, most of them refugees living in London and Birmingham, to whom I am forever grateful for sharing their experiences with me.

We hope the recordings will help future generations understand how, despite facing prejudice and misconception, people from different communities contribute significantly to society and add to the rich tapestry that makes up the UK.

The whole series will be available on our website over the coming months and will also be archived at the London Metropolitan Archive. It has been an honour for me to help raise some of these voices – and now you can hear them too.

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