Salah Rasool is a refugee from Kurdistan, an area known as Northern Iraq. Growing up, Salah lived through the Iraq, Iran and Gulf wars. Then after graduating from university in 1997, a civil war began. The Kurdish people suffered and he had to leave the area with nothing.
“It took nine months to get from Kurdistan to Wales. I left with 20 people and six of us survived.
“When I eventually crossed the Severn Bridge, my heart was beating fast and the whole world opened up for me. I passed through so many countries, but this felt like going home, and it became home for me.
“One day I went to the Welsh Refugee Council with a person I was interpreting for and the team leader asked if I wanted to volunteer there. It was a great opportunity for me. I enjoyed helping communities with different backgrounds.
“I got a receptionist job in 2005 and that was it, my life completely changed. I feel like I owe the Welsh Refugee Council so much, and that’s why I’m still working here 10 years later.”
Welsh Refugee Council in Cardiff is using a Big Lottery Fund grant of £9,750 to offer their clients access to computers and the internet, and to improve their website by translating it into six languages. They work across Wales to protect the rights of refugees, offering specialist support services to asylum seekers as well as influencing policy and practice to respond to the needs of migrants.
Chief Executive at the Welsh Refugee Council, Salah Mohamed, says: “I am grateful and proud to be the recipient of two grants from the Big Lottery Fund in Wales, ensuring that we have the right resources and capacity to meet the needs of growing numbers of asylum seekers and refugees and to provide them with volunteering opportunities. Asylum seekers and refugees will have the ability to access the information they need in a language they understand.”