Miriam was a regular participant and volunteer at our Access project and had been for a couple of years before the funded project 'a place to belong'.

“I came because I heard how they help people, and that there were a lot of activities I could get involved in. I heard that Refugee Roots help encourage people and I needed that.”

We have supported her with English classes and accompanying to appointments. She started to get involved in the cooking group as well before the lockdown.

“The first thing that Refugee Roots helped with was giving me more confidence, Refugee Roots encouraged me, this made me feel that all will be well. I was so encouraged. I felt better about my life and I saw a brighter future. Refugee Roots has really been supportive through my ups and downs, they have been encouraging me since the first day by giving me advice and guidance and now I feel much more confident.”

 In the lockdown, Miriam experienced a deeper isolation and was unable to participate in online classes and activities. 

The pandemic really affected me because I was feeling like I would panic all the time, I also was so isolated I couldn't see people. I was scared because everything was new and unknown.

“Refugee Roots was very helpful over the pandemic. I would get regular calls and get regular fresh fruit and veggies weekly.”

Matching Miriam with a volunteer befriender was the first step towards a more fulfilling experience for her in the pandemic. 

Through weekly befriending phone calls Miriam felt encouraged and received practical support such as food donations and deliveries. The befriender highlighted the issues preventing Miriam from participating in online activities. The volunteer befriender has also helped with medical appointments and communication with other service providers (foodbanks etc). 

“My befriender is really helpful, I really think we have things in common. I'm so comfortable with her. She's so supportive with helping call my GP and chasing my doctor appointments. I live a little bit far from the centre so haven't met her in person yet but I really hope I can meet her soon.”

As a result of the volunteer sharing the struggle for Miriam to access online sessions our support worker worked to obtain a donated smartphone which was a game-changer for Miriam. 

“You have changed my life forever now!  I am so happy! The day I received this phone I was dancing. Having a phone allowed me to join the online cooking and art classes that I heard that the charity was running over the pandemic. I met people and laughed and got to meet new people and see old friends in these online classes.” 

The new phone gave Miriam the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Participating in Art at Home, Virtual Kitchen and the women’s group, Miriam has expressed that this support has given her confidence and helped her cope with the loneliness she was experiencing. 

Refugee Roots gave me clothes, food and books. Refugee Roots also supported me with my travel costs to volunteer with them. I have made long term friendships. Refugee Roots has a helpful group of staff and volunteers with so many interesting lives and it's such a nice  environment.  I really appreciate  how comfortable Refugee Roots make me feel, through including me in activities and calling to check up and delivering items.

Miriam has enjoyed learning how to cook different foods and baking delicious treats, the new skills have brought her joy. She has also joined in the arts and crafts with the women’s group and art sessions.

I have never done art before and now I am more creative through the online art classes on Tuesday.  I know how to make simple cakes thanks to the cooking classes. And many other skills which I have learned this past year.