Case Study: St Augustine's Centre

Fri 21 Jun 2024

‘M’ [anonymous for safety and confidentiality] registered with us when she arrived in Halifax. She is a single lady from Afghanistan with three children. Her 10-year-old daughter suffers from epilepsy. She was very confused and had not a word of English when she arrived. She is seeking asylum.

On my first meeting with her, with the help of a translator, I explained our befriending project – A Helping Hand. She was very reluctant to make any decision and was quite distressed. Her main concerns were the language barrier and the fact she doesn't know about the UK system at all; for example how to get place in school for her children, and where to go for help. But after I explained that her befriender will be trained to support her and that we ensure confidentiality and take safeguarding very seriously, she said she wanted a female befriender.

I paired her up with Syma, who speaks one of M’s languages, so they were able to communicate fluently. From the volunteer log which Syma completes after every contact, I came to see how she makes a huge difference to M’s life. She started by helping her with shopping, and going on walks, then she encouraged her to attend free events at St Augustine's.


Building Confidence

This gave M confidence to do something for herself while her children are in school. She was a beautician back home and that’s her passion too. She wanted to give back something to St. Augustine’s, so she started as a beauty volunteer with us. She gives free eyebrow threading treatments to other women in our community. She has also started cooking in the centre’s Welcome Café as a volunteer once a week. She is a part of the team, providing 100 takeaway meals for the community. Through this, she made another friend, who is also from

Afghanistan and has good English. M regularly attends our English classes and is growing in confidence to speak and make herself understood in English.

In the space of four months. M has made a transition from being new in Halifax, unable to manage independently, to becoming a lady who is involved in two different volunteering roles, has made friends, is attending English classes and other activities. She is outwardly more self-confident and can manage her family life and her own situation with a far greater degree of independence.

M had this to say about A Helping Hand (through a translator):

“I was very depressed when I came here first. I spent all of the time with my children at home. I was alone and very nervous and anxious. But now I have friends, I am busy, I can go shopping to buy things. I am independent and I am progressing. Thank you to A Helping Hand and everyone at St Augustine's who helped me out in my difficult times and helps me believing in myself.“