When I joined the Colchester Sixthform in 2018, I already knew a fair amount about the Refugee Crisis and the challenges of being a refugee. I had always been wanting to do something to help but could not think of any way to do so.
I first heard of Friends Not Foes through one of the second years in my tutor group. Although I was sincerely interested in it, I was quite reticent to join, as I had certain apprehensions. Was I going to be useful in any way? Would it take too much of my free time? What if the others disliked me?
Despite these concerns, I thought… “whatever” and decided to attend the first meeting. Looking back, this decision was probably one of the best decision I ever took and changed my life in the most positive way! Friends Not Foes was everything I had hoped for and even more, and here is why, if you’re a student at the Colchester sixth-form, you should join too:
- You will meet incredible people
Every single person that I have met through Friends Not Foes have inspired me. The people from Refugee-Action Colchester, who are incredibly hardworking, kind and dedicated to their cause, The Refugee Community, whose strength and tenacity never fails to impress me, and the students (and teachers) from Friends Not Foes, each of which I see as a friend, are people that mean the world to me and who encourage me to be better every day.
- Everybody Matters
I have met many people who doubt their abilities to help. You may believe that you are not bringing anything to the table, but I can assure you that any small gestures, such as sitting down and listening to somebody’s story, can make a significant difference.
You might have already seen our (glorious) banner. Upon building it, we decided on our slogan: “Welcome Everyone”. We adopted it, as it perfectly reflects everything that we stand for. Whatever your skills are, and even if you think that you have none, there will always be something valuable that you will be able to do!
- None of it is binding
You are completely free! In the unlikely event that you dislike what we do, you are not bound to anything and are free to leave at any time. But more importantly, you only have to come when you can, and when you want to. Some people choose to come twice a week, some once a month, it doesn’t matter as long as it works with you.
- It is a fantastic life experience
The incredible thing is that you will be helping others as much as yourself. I have already mentioned the astonishing people that you will meet, but I think that it is important to emphasise the positive aspect that they will have on your life. Listening to various people describing their stories and hardships can be eye-opening and enlightening. You will also inevitably learn a lot about Middle Eastern culture. Some of us found it so engaging that they decided to change their course to do Middle Eastern Study at university! I wasn’t kidding when I said that it was a life-changing experience.