June 1, 2017
Volunteers Week – Beca’s story
Hello I’m Beca.
I’m 35 and I’ve lived in Manchester for over 7 years now. I’m from Romania and I have volunteered before in Romania and Africa.
I decided to volunteer at MASH because I had an awareness of sex work and the struggles that women are facing…and a bit of a guilt trip too if I’m honest. Back in Romania I’ve studied theology and across the road from our student camp there were quite a few street sex workers- every day of the year, any season, snow or unbearable heat they were there, few yards away…the religious environment I was in was of such nature that nobody would cross the road to talk or to offer support or a cup of tea or water to those women, but they’d pray for them… My guilt trip is for never having the courage to speak up for the wrong I was seeing and merely chose a complacent situation.
Volunteering at MASH
I have wanted to volunteer with MASH for many years but I let work get in the way. The day I quit my previous job I went on the MASH website and it was advertised that MASH is looking for Romanian and Hungarian volunteers and I got in touch straight away. It was a blissful moment.
I helped in the Drop-In Centre for a few months then I started Street Outreach. Meeting the Romanian service users is my main interest; building up working relationships with them, making them aware that there is help and support at MASH either regarding housing issues, immigration, health, crime reporting and if they wish, finding a different sort of job. Being able to express yourself in your native language allows for more clarity and understanding, it creates a safer, more open rapport and a lot of the times, this gives vulnerable women a chance to be reached, listened to, informed and empowered.
MASH provided in house training as well as facilitated various training with Matta regarding women in prison, LGBT foundation regarding working with trans service users, mental health etc.
At times the interaction with service users has been more emotional. MASH has a wonderful diverse team of staff, managers and volunteers open to listen and support each other. It is a strong positive environment.
The impact on me
There are many moments that have made a real impact on me: Seeing a new service user getting in touch after hearing about MASH from other sex workers; each time we give hope to a woman that is not aware of the available support is a moment of success. Less fear, less confusion, more trust and hope. This is what springs me on.
If you can spare a few hours a week, getting in touch with Dan will change your life and the lives of others. You will learn, grow, make friends and most important get to hold the hand of women in a vulnerable situation, listening, giving hope and making a real impact.
Thank you so much!
Dan, the MASH Volunteer Co-ordinator, would be really pleased to hear from you if you have language skills, particularly Hungarian and Romanian.