I didn’t know anyone when I arrived in Manchester. I was an asylum seeker and new to the UK. The Boaz Trust – a partner charity of Mustard Tree – helped me access safe accommodation and told me about the training and volunteering opportunities at Mustard Tree. I started by joining a four week Customer Service course and stayed on as part of the Freedom Project. I found that I enjoyed it a lot and it was an encouragement to be helping others.

UK culture is totally different to my home country, Sudan. It takes time to adjust. When I arrived in England 18 months ago, I didn’t speak any English. Through the activities I have accessed, including ESOL classes, I now speak good conversational English. I have built my confidence and can do things and go to new places without being afraid. I have been granted refugee status which means I can now look for work. Mustard Tree has provided the opportunity to develop my work skills and be part of a working environment as part of their Retail Team.Through Mustard Tree’s job club I’ve had support to apply for work and developed my interview skills. At the club I have met with Skills Mentors from Barclays Bank and Trans Pennine trains who have developed my CV to show my strengths. At Mustard Tree I get all the advice I need. Any questions I have, I know I will get an answer!

While on the Freedom Project I completed a two week work placement with Waitrose, through a partner organisation, Business in the Community. This was the first time for me to gain experience with a company in the UK and it really helped me a lot. I learned more about how to provide great customer service – the customs and expectations here are totally different to my home country and culture!   Last month I attended a presentation at Manchester Piccadilly with Virgin Trains which Mustard Tree set up. I met their Onboard Manager who was really helpful. They were impressed with my outlook and experience. As a result I have been offered a part time job as Customer Service Assistant at Piccadilly Station. It is a great opportunity to develop my skills and experience further.

My ultimate goal is to achieve a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, which I studied in Sudan. I have had support from my Skills Mentor to look at options to help make this happen.   I am surprised by how much people want to help. It is something I really appreciate and has made a big difference to me.

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