My name is Mathilde Vivares and I am a masters student in human rights law at Essex University. I first became involved with Refugee Action Colchester through STAR (Student Action for Refugees) at the university. We started a craft and conversation club, running weekly, with some of the women clients. The project is to provide a safe place for women refugees and asylum seekers to practice English and to build connections and friendships. Through the project, I bonded with some of the women, and made some amazing friends.
I started volunteering directly with RA-C recently, helping out with administrative and research support. I wanted to get involved because I want to help making people seeking asylum in Colchester feel welcome and cared for. It has been an amazing experience, and I learned a lot about the UK asylum system and how it works in reality. I realised how different the reality is from the legal aspects that I have been learning in my degree. The work at RA-C involves a lot more than seeking asylum: it ranges from this, to claiming benefits when needed and housing issues and supporting the clients in any possible way. Although it is very challenging and emotional at times, I have also found it very fulfilling and rewarding. I have enjoyed seeing the team at RA-C building relationships of trusts with the clients, and helping them starting a new life in the UK. The team and the clients are very inspiring and I am thankful to have met such amazing people.
I am also taking part in the Ration Challenge this September – I will be eating the same rations as a Syrian refugee living in a camp for a week, in order to raise awareness and money for food, medicine and education. This is incredibly important, especially in these times as refugees have been hit by COVID-19 even harder. It is also crucial to raise awareness on the horrific conditions in these camps.
I have now raised £370 and would love to raise even more…
If you would like to show support to refugees and sponsor me please visit https://www.rationchallenge.org.uk/mathilde-vivares