Over 150 volunteers supported the Welcoming during 17/18. They were:
- English teachers
- Conversation Cafe volunteers
- Gardeners and food growers
- Playgroup helpers
- Board members
- Cycle leaders
- Event organisers
- Gym, swim and jog leaders
- Creative artists
- Lunch hosts.
Here are some snapshots of our volunteers talking about their work at the Welcoming and what it means to them.
Jenny and Graham
Jenny and Graham are our cycling enthusiasts who lead monthly bike rides across the city. They also help people with all kinds of cycling know-how such as sorting out repairs, how to find local cycling groups and where to buy second hand bikes in Edinburgh.
‘Cycling gives people another perspective on Edinburgh and they can see places they haven’t seen. I also know that cycling makes me feel confident and healthy and I think it does for them as well. It’s fun!’ (Jenny)
‘I like getting out on the bike so it’s an excuse to get out on the bike and if you’re showcasing Edinburgh, it’s really gratifying. Hopefully we provide a welcoming atmosphere to people who can feel at home and not feel alienated in a strange land. It’s also interesting talking to people and learning about other countries!’ (Graham)
Angie is a Super Volunteer, with three important roles at the Welcoming! She is an English teacher, she works with our Syrian women’s group and is a befriender with the Welcoming Friendship programme.
‘The Welcoming is a really safe, friendly and welcoming place where people can learn English and explore other activities. They benefit a lot in terms of confidence, in terms of language development, and in terms of social networking … You see people who come in shy and not so sure of themselves and their language ability … but then things start to happen for them. Before you know it they are the ones who are welcoming the newcomers and showing them the ropes – it’s quite a beautiful thing.’
Kenny is well-known as the Welcoming’s No 1 volunteer! He has never missed a Welcoming community event, and plays an invaluable role in terms of security, first aid and being head barman.
‘We’re one big family … we’re all learning, different nations, they’re learning ours, we’re learning theirs, they’re sharing what they do and we’re sharing ours. And that’s it. And that’s the Welcoming, speaks for itself, it’s in the title. Welcome, there you are!’
Leah is one of our regular ESOL teacher volunteers. She teaches the Advanced class every Monday and is hugely popular for her challenging approach and interesting topics.
‘I always try to push the students. They’re here to learn English and challenging them is important. To teach adults who are so motivated to learn is wonderful! I learn from them and all the students learn from each other as well … ’
Pam is a regular Conversation Café volunteer, joining our lively Friday get-together twice a month to help participants get talking, listening and understanding together.
‘I love it. I love seeing a completely different perspective. I enjoy meeting people from different countries, finding out how they came here, how they see life, a lot of people who come here have got real drive to benefit themselves and move forward in life. I just really enjoy it!‘
Nael is our friendly Games Night volunteer, welcoming participants to play table tennis, snooker and all kinds of board games together every Tuesday evening.
‘I help other people. I meet other new people and learn other cultures and traditions and pass the time with new friends. I improve my language, I improve my skills!’
Barbara is our Friday lunch host and she is all about Welcoming!
‘During the hosting I ensure that people feel welcome and happy. I welcome them with some music, a cup of tea, a drink and a snack …I think that an organisation like the Welcoming is really good to make people feel safe, to make people feel at home wherever people are coming from, and to help people to integrate in to the social and economic activities of Edinburgh.’
Lynn, Yassine and Rayyan
Lynn, Yassine and Rayyan are our very first befriending family! They are friends with a newly arrived Syrian family with young children in Edinburgh. The families enjoying meeting up so the children can play together and so they can all share experiences and navigate local life in Edinburgh.
‘The Welcoming provides a really good structure for befriending. We really enjoyed the induction … it was really thorough, it gave us the chance to meet with other befrienders and gave us lots of things to think about before we got to know our new friends.’ (Lynn)
‘I am just here nearly 4 years in Edinburgh and the time passed quickly, so when we are meeting our friends from Syria I like to introduce them to the country and to show them many things. And I felt like that the first time I came to Scotland, I feel like them also and I’m happy to share with them the experience I had here.’ (Yassine)
‘Bye bye!’ (Rayyan)