Fairer Scotland

Salar Mohammad Rassoul, a COVID -19 response volunteer at NHS Dumfries and Galloway

June 22, 2020 by No Comments | Category Community and Place, Get involved, Health, Volunteering

Salar Mohammad Rassoul, age 40, originally from Syria, has been volunteering with NHS Dumfries and Galloway since September 2019 and is currently involved as a COVID-19 response volunteer.

“I moved to Scotland from Syria with my family in April 2018 and I found refuge in Dumfries and Galloway. I am so grateful to the Scottish people for welcoming me into their country and I wanted to give back to Scotland by volunteering.

“I started volunteering to help improve my English and to give me confidence and experience to get a job. I currently work with another volunteer Val to do the shopping for patients in the Midpark Mental Health Hospital every week. This relieves staff from having to do a big shop for all their patients when they are already so busy.

“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, I have also volunteered at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. My role is to stand at the atrium, greet out-patients and direct them to the relevant departments. As families are not able to visit their loved ones in hospital during the pandemic, I act as a link between them both and the staff: as I also take patients’ personal belongings to their loved ones and uplift washing.  In May alone, as a team we passed 365 family members’ bags and packages to the patients in the hospital. Family members are always so grateful for this.

“What I really love about volunteering is helping other people. It brings me so much happiness and gives me a lot of satisfaction. Volunteering has helped me to connect with Scottish people and I have made so many new friends. The role has also supported me with literacy and numeracy skills for everyday life as I took English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at Dumfries and Galloway College prior to the pandemic outbreak.

“Being a volunteer during the pandemic has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’ve gained a lot of confidence just by speaking to people – even when I find the accents really difficult to understand! I’ve even learned the Scottish lingo like ‘no bad!’

“I’ve also learned so much about UK culture. On VE day, I learned why there was a one minute’s silence and I found this really sad.  I have also been able to share my culture with other volunteers and members of staff. I tell them about my family in Syria and how difficult it is for my people there. I think sharing cultural differences enriches people and a lot of people have been touched by my story.

“I think coming from a war-torn country makes me want to help people even more – my parents are still in Syria and millions of my people really need help, it’s very sad. That’s why I want to do as much as I can to help people in Scotland. My family are very proud of me.

“The volunteering coordinator at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Margaret, and one of the volunteers, Wilma, are also helping me with the skills to look for a job as my goal is to be able to support my family. I just passed my computing exam so volunteering will hopefully have been a stepping stone to employment.

“Although my English was very poor in the beginning, the staff at NHS Dumfries and Galloway still gave me a chance to volunteer and I cannot thank them enough for this. I think anyone who is considering volunteering should 100% do it! It has been such a rewarding experience for me.”

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