Recap one year of volunteering at the WATAn Men’s Group

written by our one-year intern, Hannah.

During my one-year internship at SLRA I had the chance to become part of the ´Men’s group. They meet in person every Tuesday afternoon since I worked for SLRA. However, the group initially started as an online group on Zoom and as a response to the covid-19. The idea is to create a safe and welcoming space for male migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers who often do not have a social space to share their experience, meet other people, and do fun activities. The group is facilitated by Waleed (adult&family caseworker) & Sarah (SLRA counsellor).

In my year at SLRA, the group has done a lot of different activities for example sport sessions with table tennis, badminton or sessions about political topics with interesting discussions. They also took part in some political campaigns like they did an online protest during poverty week

In one of their sessions, they decided to name the group „WATAN“ which means „home“ in different languages. When I spoke with some regular members I’ve realised that the name fits very well. For example when I spoke with a regular group member, Martin, he told me that this group is like a family to him and that he comes despite the long journey because SLRA and the Men’s group helps him so much.

Another very regular WATAN group member is Mohamed. He joined the sessions since I started and comes to almost every session. I spoke with him about his experiences at the men’s group, he said: „I joined the men’s group because I want to socialise and learn what is going on in the UK immigration system. The men’s group has influenced me a lot through exchanging ideas about our individual experiences with the UK immigration system“. One activity of the men’s group, he still remembers, was the story telling workshop. This workshop with extern facilitator, Jelena, was about sharing fairy tails from different cultures and learning how to deliver a good story. He also really enjoyed the sport activities in the garden. Mohammed told me that he is looking forward to learn and share his experiences more.

Furthermore, I spoke with Jospeh about his experiences in the SLRA Men’s Group. Like Mohamed, Joseph is a SLRA community leader and very regular member of the Men’s group. „I joined the men’s group for therapeutic reasons and to network with like-minded people with lived-experience.“ He told me that the group has influenced him by helping him to cope with stress, mental health, and wellbeing and not to worry too much about his immigration process. Jospeh still remembers the walks trough local parks which we did, when covid numbers increased again in Winter. He also enumerates one of the mental health sessions the group has done recently. „ I remember the session where we had  to write a personal letter to our future self, 3 months into the future.“ 

Being part of the Men’s group was one of the many highlights during my internship at SLRA! I am so grateful that I had the chance to take part in all of these interesting discussions, political campaigns, the fun sport, and the creative painting sessions. It was so nice to meet all these very kind and inspiring people. I am definitely going to miss this group and the people very much.

These are photos from our garden at SLRA. Many of the men’s group members are part of our weekly garden group as volunteers and have done a lot of work to improve the beautiful garden!

We are really grateful to have had Hannah with us for a year. She grow a lot in the year and has done such an amazing job! Thank you for all your hard work, your kind being, and the last year.