Della worked with a small team of volunteers to welcome three refugee nurses to Great Yarmouth. Find out why she got involved in Neighbours for Newcomers and what advice she has for other volunteers.
How long have you lived in Great Yarmouth?
I came here in 1972 from Lancashire. We moved because my husband got a job here. We were only supposed to stay for 2 years, but I’m still here! I love this area.
You’re retired now. What were you doing before you retired?
I was a qualified nurse. When my children were little, I worked in nursing part time. And then as they grew up, I went back into nursing full time, and then went on into nurse management and so on.
It’s something that’s always been important to me.
Why did you want to volunteer with Neighbours for Newcomers?
I have volunteered on and off all my life. I’ve volunteered with different causes but always in the community – it’s something that’s always been important to me. One day I saw a Facebook post looking for volunteers to help welcome refugee nurses to Great Yarmouth. I’m a nurse, and I’m also a Muslim with experience of moving to this area, so I thought it seemed like a natural fit.
You were part of a team of volunteers in Great Yarmouth. What was your role?
All the other people in the group were working except me, which meant that I ended up tending to lead the group because I had more time. If there was an issue, I was able to drop things – sort of like the emergency contact. That was the benefit to having an older person within the group.
What sort of things did you do with the nurses to help them settle in?
It ranged from quite big, serious tasks like helping them to find a flat to rent, through to fun, social events like going to Bonfire Night celebrations together and long walks along the beach.
What was the biggest challenge about volunteering?
Supporting the nurses to find somewhere to rent. It’s hard to find somewhere to live in the UK at the best of times. They’re under 25 and have a limited budget, which made it very challenging.
What was the best thing about volunteering?
Just making friends with young people who have had to deal with so much in their life, and to see how well they were coping. I was filled with admiration for them.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
Have an open mind. The nurses are all individual people and they won’t fit into whatever square peg you might feel they ought to fit in. Regardless of their age, gender or religion, you can’t know in advance what they’re going to want to do, or not want to do.
Would you volunteer like this again?