Soud is a Syrian refugee and came to the UK just before the pandemic hit. When we first met he was taking part in beginners ESOL classes, and his English was really limited. We did a lot of chatting over Google Translate, and he laughed a lot at my attempt at speaking Arabic. His English was far better than my Arabic by a long way!
He had previously been a taxi driver when he briefly lived in Iraq, but he had dreams of putting his artistic talent to work. He wasn’t sure which field he wanted to work in, but knew that his immediate priority was to improve his English.
We identified a good place to begin his volunteering would be in a charity shop. We had regular check-ins whilst he volunteered to make sure everything was going well. When I spoke to his manager at the charity shop, she let me know that he was a great help. He was the first volunteer that we placed in that store and she said that she would be more than happy to have another. He did us proud!
The last time I saw him before he finished his placement with ProjectScotland, he seemed like a changed man. I remarked that he seemed so much more confident, and he told me, ‘It is hard to be confident when you don’t understand what people are saying. Now I understand, I am more confident.’.
There wasn’t anyone in Soud’s family that had a job at the time, so Soud let me know that he would appreciate having someone else to ask for advice. At this time he told me he’d like to have a mentor, and so we matched him with a volunteer to support him. They went to the museum together and she helped him explore Glasgow, giving him a safe space to practice English. She continued to support him once his placement with ProjectScotland came to an end.