Volunteer Experiences

Serving Brushstrokes

Here we focus on the cases of volunteers and service users whose levels of self confidence and optimism have increased as a result of involvement with Brushstrokes’ services and activities.

Helai, a previous volunteer at Brushstrokes, came to the UK from Afghanistan as a refugee in 2000. Feeling lost and anxious about her situation she came to Brushstrokes in 2002 to learn English. Here, she got the opportunity to volunteer in the Brushstrokes canteen. She says volunteering at Brushstrokes built up her confidence and put her in the right path for employment. Helai is now working at Victoria Park School, Smethwick as a lunch time supervisor. She is very happy in her work, feeling strong and independent because she feels she has fullilled her ambitions.


Helai was interviewed for this article by Yasameen (pictured here on the left), Brushstrokes’ Administration Volunteer.

Congratulations to Lakshmi Sukumaran, Brushstrokes Teaching Volunteer, on the occasion of graduating from the University of Worcester with a Level-5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET).

Lakshmi says, ‘I have been an ESOL volunteer with Brushstrokes for the past "ive years. I was a secondary school English teacher in India and when I moved to the UK in 2006 Brushstrokes provided me with a beacon of light of hope and inspired me to pursue a career in adult education. Teaching at Brushstrokes has been an exhilarating experience ever since. Being able to interact with people from diverse cultures and striving to bring about positive changes in their lives has been a humbling and rewarding journey for me. I completed a Level-5 Diploma in Education and Training four months ago and the immense support and guidance I received from the Brushstrokes ESOL Co-Ordinator, Jane Alsop, is indescribable. I have also been fortunate enough to receive encouragement and support from my colleagues and other volunteers.


I secured a job as an ESOL Lecturer at Sandwell College in March 2017. It gives me a great a sense of joy and pride to say that it is Brushstrokes that has channelled my successful career as a teacher and I hope I can continue to serve this great organisation for a long time!’

Asha has been an administration volunteer at Brushstrokes since the summer of 2017. She says, ‘I enjoy coming to Brushstrokes because the people are friendly and supportive. I help in reception and with admin work and I also join in the sewing classes. It has really helped my self con1idence to be a volunteer here and I hope to get more involved at Brushstrokes. I would love to get better IT skills!’