Borris came to Manchester six months ago after having to leave his home country, his family and everything he knew behind. At Mustard Tree, Borris has finally found somewhere to feel safe, a sense of community and is hoping he will be able to train as a nurse in the future.
While waiting for the Home Office to process his claim for asylum, like any other hopeful refugee, Borris has no right to work, was housed with a group of other claimants and had less than half of what someone on Job Seekers Allowance has to live on – just £35 a week.
“I came from my home country and was at first sent to Liverpool. I didn’t know anyone or know the area at all. In the house there were four guys. No one spoke the same language. I was just left lonely and afraid in my room with nothing to do. No money, can’t work, no friends. It was really getting to me mentally, I hated it.ʺ
After a few weeks Borris was moved again, this time to Salford.
“I was transferred to Salford, which was better as I met more some people who shared some of my culture. It made me feel a bit less afraid. My friend was a Freedom Volunteer at Mustard Tree and said I should go to there because if you are depressed or want something to do they will help you.”
Mustard Tree is a place of welcome for anyone who needs help. For people who are waiting for their asylum decision, being able to volunteer and contribute to their new community is a chance to integrate, learn the language, and get help with navigating all the bureaucracy.
“When I first started as a Freedom Volunteer I was helping in the shop and doing the food club helping with customers. It was really enlightening to interact with people and talking to them learning about their lives, not just sitting at home. I was actually doing something good for people giving back to the community. However I was feeling so lost still like I was just dropped here, like I was blind. I still didn’t really know the area or feel comfortable.”
Every Freedom Volunteer has a support worker who meets at least once a fortnight to help set goals and help with any issues. Borris was working with Jacquie, who suggested volunteering on our delivery vans instead of in the shop. It turned out to be a great plan.
“I went on the van and finally got to see the place I was in. Now, I can’t wait to get out on the van every day. I feel like I can see again. Des the driver is excellent because he always explains everything to me about where we are going, how to get there and points out interesting things. I’m also learning the bus routes. It’s a great way to see the area and I have learnt so much! ʺ
Every Freedom Volunteer role is about more than training. It’s a chance to provide opportunities for growth and progression. Mustard Tree is a support network and positive community, a place creating opportunities for people to help themselves.
“Since I came here I am treated as part of the family and everyone asks how you’re doing. It keeps your mind off thinking of home. When I get up in the morning I feel like I’m going to my family. Everyone is equal; we have lunch together we do everything together. If I have a problem I know I can ask people here.”
If Borris’s claim is successful Mustard Tree will be there to support him in is hopes for the future.
I really hope that I can get my papers to stay in this country so I can work and support my family. I want to hopefully start to study nursing.
For now, I want to stay at the Mustard Tree as I am learning and experiencing so much. If I hadn’t been told about Mustard Tree I don’t know what I would be doing now. Here I am accepted, I belong