Here at the SLRA, we assist clients from origins that span the globe, and who have so many intricacies in their needs surrounding asylum, immigration and refuge.
If you were to count the number of refugees through the SLRAs’ doors daily, you’d probably forget to count the first one through the door every day – SLRA Volunteer Celestine.
At present, Celestine spends six days a week at SLRA, coordinating donation deliveries, collections and maintaining their “No Money Shop” where individuals and families come to collect essentials like food, toiletries, and books, puzzles and toys for children. Celestine proudly mentions that “the bank of volunteer delivery drivers and cyclists are amazing” especially during the Covid-19 government enforced lockdown period.Before the Pandemic, Celestine was setting up a social group for men and fathers service, to work alongside the various other support groups run by SLRA.
Focused energy overflows while he organises and allocates donations. Noting that the hardest part of his job is ascertaining which families need which essentials – appropriate toys and toiletries go much further when sent to the right home.
Arriving in London as a refugee himself at the age of 10; Celestine draws strong parallels between the safety and comfort that England gave him, and the care and stability that the SLRA provide to its clients. He tells us that the most enjoyable part of his work is “Seeing people’s kindness, it’s amazing how many people want to help. The most basic act of helping people to eat makes me happiest here”.
Celestine pointed out that he has never stopped being a refugee – this bridge between refugees being in need and refugees giving back epitomises the full circle of care that the SLRA provide to each of its clients.
This text is part of a new series of regular updates and stories we want to share about the amazing people behind our work at SLRA. Thanks to Radhika for text and photographs. We’re looking forward to sharing more stories soon.