An interview with John Kneale - Volunteer at Achieving Change Through Employment
How do you help the Achieving Change Through Employment (ACE) project?
I help refugees to integrate into their new community. I do this by helping them learn the language and get used to talking in English. I help my mentee by providing professional and friendly face-to-face contact. By helping my mentee improve his English it has had a variety of benefits. He is now confident and able to access local services, go shopping, send a letter, go on a bus and more. Hopefully, with some more support, he can get work. These benefits help my mentee to feel independent again.
What does your role involve?
I meet my mentee every week. I support him by helping him practice conversational English. He learns at college, but he practices away from the classroom with me.
How would you describe the team?
The ACE team recruited me and trained me and now offer ongoing support. They have all been fabulous, extremely supportive, cheerful, positive and helpful. I get regular supervision which reassures me that I am supporting my mentee well. It also means I and get help to improve my own skills and abilities.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I found out about the project through another local project. I was looking for opportunities to support the local community and keep myself busy. The ACE project was a good fit for me. It complimented my desire to support people from Syria. It also means I am utilising my skills gained from my career teaching aboard.
What do you enjoy about working for the service?
I enjoy feeling like I’ve helped someone. I enjoy connecting with someone in a friendly and helpful way. I really enjoy having the opportunity to meet with people from a different culture.
Would you encourage people to access support?
Yes, I think volunteering makes you feel better, it makes you happy to make others smile. It is nice to see another side of life; it is nice to help people and it’s good to feel wanted.
Why did you decide to volunteer?
I needed something to make me feel motivated again. This project gave me an avenue to support refugees from Syria and utilise my teaching skills.