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"Helping others is my medicine"

Hatim is a PhD student and a volunteer with the British Red Cross’s Refugee Support team in Birmingham. Here, Hatim shares his passion for helping young people settle into life in the UK.

Hatim has the Red Cross in his blood, having spent 10 years as a volunteer and employee with the Sudanese Red Crescent. He was a network engineer travelling around the country, installing networks in more than 25 branches. He considers his work with the British Red Cross a part of that.

He found school challenging, but, with the help of a teacher, he overcame these to gain a PHD in Cybersecurity and job.  It was only until recently, that he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia.

"I use volunteering and helping people as my cure. It is my medicine to help me overcome my challenges", Hatim says.

People will never forget how you made them feel

Hatim found such solace in volunteering, that he chose to volunteer through the Covid pandemic. He wanted to help those feeling isolated, lonely and depressed.

"The British Red Cross had a fantastic protocol to keep volunteers safe. During Covid, I wore gloves and mask and took care of myself very well. Many people were feeling lonely and depressed. And this is the magic: the more you will be kind to people, the more it will come back to you as well.

"I like this quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Paving the way: working with young people

Hatim now works on a project called 'Paving the way' which empowers young asylum seekers living in Birmingham to access information about their rights, entitlement and responsibilities. He loves it.

He makes personal strategy plans for young people. These covered adaptability and resilience - the importance of adopting a new mindset. Problem solving was another aspect - the importance of using mind over heart. And the final two aspects of the plans covered relationships and wellbeing and technology. 

"I tell them about an app called Tick Tick. It will organize your life. It’s like my second brain! I am also leading a session aimed at educating young individuals on the importance of cybersecurity."

Hatim loves volunteering with young people, and encourages them to learn from his experience and challenges. 

"When I do my presentation, I put up my CV with all my roles. As well as a Red Cross volunteer, I'm a PhD student and researcher in cybersecurity, and a trustee of a charity called Eduwell.

"I say, I don't want to sell myself. But I need to tell you that I was in the same situation as you. I had barriers to the English language, no job, a new culture and rules.

"If you believe in yourself, if you follow your passion, if you follow your dreams, you will achieve it.”

Why I love the Red Cross

Hatim believes that the Red Cross gives him opportunities he could not get in any other organisation.  

"People like me with ADHD and dyslexia have issues with distraction and lack of memory. But the Red Cross gives me the opportunity to be mindful, and to give myself unconditional self-acceptance.

"It is a warm family – my extended family. I feel belonging in this organisation. I’m so proud to wear the badge."

Inspired by Hatim's story?

If you feel you could use your life experience to support others in crisis, why not volunteer for too?

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