Shani's story

Befriending by Shani


I began volunteering at the Refugee Centre when I started my studies on asylum seekers. I didn’t want to just study asylum seekers as “subjects”, I wanted the real experience of meeting, understanding and helping asylum seekers and refugees.

I started as a Befriender which is ideal for students like me due to the flexibility of the hours. When I met my ‘friend’, a client of Coventry Refugee Centre, she said she’d like someone to accompany her to the Women’s Group at the Centre for support. Watching as an outsider, I loved what the Women’s Group had to offer, and found myself wishing I could become more involved. Whenever my friend couldn’t make a session, I found I was disappointed that I’d be missing out too. So later I decided to regularly volunteer with the Women’s Group in addition to my befriending.

I love the rich diversity of the Women’s Group, watching women gradually increase their confidence, particularly in my friend’s case. I love to see women form friendships and know that they are in a safe place now where they won’t be judged. Anyone can read about the persecution and abuse that refugees have faced in their countries of origin. However when there is a real human being in front of you and you hear of their personal journey, the experience is so powerful it just doesn’t compare. These women are my inspiration.