My volunteering journey started about a year ago, after a frustrating experience with the UK benefits system as a young EU immigrant in Scotland who had recently graduated from University and had just lost a part-time job, writes Helen Kepelian.
I suddenly found myself falling through the cracks of an indifferent bureaucratic system that denied me access to Universal Credit (UC), due to a Home Office failure to certify my digital immigration status.
I was angry and terrified- if not to say, desperate- for my prospects, when I discovered the Citizens’ Citizens’ Rights Project. From the first moment, since I attended one of their informative events held in my local area, I found them to be friendly, resourceful and extremely helpful. When I raised my concerns with their advising team, asking for help, they were able to point me to the right direction, explaining to me in detail what the situation for pre-settled EU citizens was, and how I could bring my case forward. Following their advice, I resubmitted my UC claim, and they granted me the benefits!
Soon afterwards, I joined their team as a volunteer advisor, whereas I got trained in the EU Settlement Scheme, obtaining an EUSS OISC Level 1 accreditation. Upon receiving my accreditation, I started offering a 1-2-1 support service to EU citizens who need help with their application. I also act as a translator for the project providing translations, from English to Greek, of important resources and informative materials about the EUSS scheme. In addition to that, I am a first point of contact for Greek communities in Scotland, being responsible for communications and translating all correspondence from Greek to English.
My experience so far has been a transformational one: Not only I have had the opportunity to be part of a significant movement for EU citizens’ rights by transforming my anger into empowering everyday action, but I was also able to meet, collaborate and get inspired from amazing people! My involvement with the Citizens’ Rights Project changed my life in another unexpectedly positive way. My volunteering led me to understand that I want to be a communications consultant, and that’s how I ended up working for imaginoraequa.com!
So, if you have some time and you aspire to bring a change in yourself first, volunteer your time and skills for the Citizens’ Rights Project today: You never know what kind of difference this is going to make in your life, and in the lives of others as well!
Helen studied linguistics at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and University of Stirling. She’s a bilingual communication consultant for imaginoraequa.com who helps clients to find their voice, re-inventing their brand identity. She’s a writer and blogger for several websites, on topics ranging from communication to everyday life’s struggles, always writing from a hands-on point of view.
First published by the EU Citizens’ Rights Project