Words by Abi Scaife
One of the biggest problems facing refugees is that once they are somewhere safe it can be incredibly difficult to find work. Luckily, a huge network of volunteers is coming together to change that.
At Smiley News, we have written about organisations helping refugees find work before - social enterprises like Nemi Teas are a great example of this. For BizGees, though, things are a little different.
BizGees is a social enterprise made up of volunteer professionals, helping refugees to build - and rebuild - relevant skills. The whole charity is steam-powered by volunteers who, in their professional lives, are pros at a specific vocational skill.
“The way we [work] is … to enable people to rebuild their skills and stay relevant in the job market,” explains Zufi Deo, Co-Founder at BizGees. “Our volunteers nurture a specific vocational skill that refugees can take with them into the job market afterwards.”
This week is National Volunteers Week, organised by NCVO - a whole week dedicated to showcasing the incredible volunteers that keep organisations like these ticking over. Without volunteers, so many charitable organisations wouldn’t be able to operate, and we would be much worse off for it.
Volunteering with BizGees is aimed at Gen-Zers, primarily students and young professionals, who are eager to give back to people in need of a helping hand. Many of these volunteers are in the perfect place to teach others important, employable skills, having just recently learned themselves.
The main goal of BizGees isn’t to find fast and easy, low-paying work for refugees in need, but to equip them with the tools they need to build a better life for themselves. By giving them a few months to work with volunteers, finding what they are good at, and passionate about, and then teaching them how to market that, BizGees are helping people to create long-term solutions.
On why young people are so important to the world of volunteering, and why they are so keen to give back, Zufi answered, “I think it's just how young people are … we're finding that we are very engaged in volunteering. I think it's also a sign of the times where we are much more socially engaged in other than before.”
Volunteering is such an amazing way to spend your time, not only because it helps you give back to people and charities in need, but because it helps you as a person, too. Studies have shown that people struggling with mental health problems like depression and anxiety felt symptoms alleviate when volunteering.
Plus, volunteering with those from different walks of life than yourself is always good - it gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons, to understand the importance of diversity.
“It was very emotionally engaging because I started volunteering with big-ish foundation and learning about homeless people,” says Zufi, of his own experience with volunteering at the start of his career. “I got the opportunity to see what they're about, rather than the perception you have. … Just by volunteering, you learn so much more about the kinds of issues that are going on.”
If you want to learn more about BizGees and how to volunteer with them, you can do so on their website. If you want to learn more about National Volunteers Week, you can find out more on the website, or by visiting the NCVO site.
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Reach Volunteering. The leading skills-based volunteering charity in the UK, Reach connects people, skills and good causes. Find out more here.
Small Charity Week. Come together and celebrate small charities all across the UK. Support them here.
NCVO. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations - championing the remarkable role of charities and volunteers. Learn more here.