Giving something back to those who helped me so much

In the latest of our series of blogs to mark Volunteers Week 2016, a mum and former asylum seeker tells how she is now helping the healthcare group that came to her aid:

I started volunteering for Bevan Healthcare back in January.

I’ve been a patient at Bevan for 10 years and have benefited very much from their services, helping me through a very stressful time in my life when I came to UK with my young daughter.

They helped me physically by providing excellent GPs and they also helped signpost legal services.  They were always available and assisted with the registration of my daughter into a local primary school as well as getting the help she needed at the time due to our difficult circumstances.

As I have received so much care and provision, I wanted to give something back to Bevan.  For me, Bevan has been like a family.  And because of my experiences of seeking asylum here, I feel I can identify and understand some of the emotions and challenges that many of the patients at Bevan are experiencing.

Since volunteering I have been involved in a range of activities.  Firstly, I was a ‘volunteer buddy’ in the waiting area which involves greeting people on arrival and helping them to where they need to be in the building.  This also involves helping patients who are having difficulty filling in their registration forms and encouraging patients to fill in the Friends & Family Test.

It’s been good to meet people and offer company to those that look lonely or nervous while waiting for their appointment.

I’ve also been involved in assisting Bevan’s Patient Participation group, helping them to review the services run by Bevan by suggesting ways these might be improved and looking at plugging any current gaps in services.

Recently I was involved in a Women’s Education event where we were addressing the issue of women not engaging in cervical screening and the importance of them being screened.  It was a real privilege to be part of this.

I was able to ring all the Iranian women patients to invite them to the event where I acted as translator and lead their group on the day.  It was great to see women talking about these key issues, addressing the barriers of pain, embarrassment and fear.

Finally, at the beginning of May, I volunteered to accompany Bevan with a trip to the Dales for mothers and their young children.   Many of these women had never been outside of Bradford and you could see their joy at seeing the beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh air. It was great to be involved!

I do feel my volunteering has made a difference to others.  I have been able to listen to people who don’t have anyone to talk to.  I’ve also had opportunity to encourage women to think about their health and wellbeing, and have been able to provide Bevan with a patient’s perspective on how their services are working and can be shaped moving forward.

I also know that volunteering has made a real difference to me, improving my self-confidence and self-esteem. Doing something for others has given me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by feeling I can contribute something to society.

Since volunteering I have certainly felt happier and my role at Bevan has helped me feel ‘alive’ again.

  • Bevan Healthcare is a Social Enterprise committed to helping people get the health care that they need. At Bevan House Primary Care Centre we provide responsive NHS General Practice services designed to meet the needs of people who are homeless or in unstable accommodation; those who have come to Bradford as refugees or to seek asylum; and others who find it hard to access health care.
  • Find out more at: and get ruglar updates on Twitter at: @BevanCIC
Paris Dehghani

Paris Dehghani is a proud and committed mum who was born in Iran.

She is passionate about empowering vulnerable people and an advocate for volunteering.

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