Some success stories from our volunteers & interns

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Volunteers from the Refugee Women's Action Research Group Testimonials

"The best thing I’ve learnt from this project is self-confidence for myself, to speak in the public and to listen to others and to give me the opportunity to build up my English speech as well. "

Mariam, Project volunteer

"It was really good to know actually, when I was informed about this project and I was referred here to come and volunteer, I was really interested to find what the project was really about and I was really excited and it was very interesting to know that there was an organisation out there that was thinking about our problems and what we can do about it…because there are all organisations out there helping people, practically, helping them to get solicitors etc. but actually they haven’t done anything to help change the situation. So when I came here and Holly told me what the project was about what they were hoping to achieve, I was really excited. It was good to know that there was an organisation out there thinking about us…so I really felt listened to as an asylum-seeker. It has really increased my confidence in such a way that I can now express myself better and because I was interviewing other asylum-seekers, it helped me to gain more confidence because actually I had to interview a group of women. It was a group interview and I had to speak loud and attend to everybody and I really felt that I gained more confidence then because I was able to speak among other people, a lot of them were failed asylum-seekers and to be able to organise it. And that was really good. "

Aisha, Project volunteer

"I’ve been able to go out and meet other people and find out about their own experiences and it gives you, hmmm, how can I put it…some kind of closure because  if you’re an asylum-seeker and you’ve been through a lot of things, you think that these problems are only happening to you, but if you’re able to listen to other people who have been through the same experience, you feel like it’s not just you. You can share your problems with other people. As we were doing the research I was able to go to different places  and there like I could speak to different women…and they would listen to me and that made me feel like I was worth something, that I could be listened to. Before I thought no one is going to listen to me. It was a really good experience. Before I was always afraid to speak out. I was the kind of person who was like, I would have something to say but I would be afraid to say it out loud…but I’ve learned to open up because if you speak about something it gets better. And as I’ve been carrying out interviews with different women it’s made me realise that when we are in a group  and you speak about the situation you are going through and all that, it kind of gives you hope that I’m not the only one going through this situation. I’ve met women who’ve been through all sorts of different experiences and I understand when I’m speaking to them that it’s so good to speak about something that’s going on in your life, maybe something can be done about it rather than keeping it to myself. So I’ve been able to gain confidence to speaking my mind. "

Miriam, Project volunteer

99% Campaign Testimonials

"Clara spent a week working with IARS for a work experience placement  from the 5th to the 8th of July 2011. Through the course of the week she took part in many different activities such as updating IARS’s social media, shadowing volunteer inductions, working on a training brochure, gathering information for an online auction fundraising event and brainstorming ideas for the TFL 99% Campaign poster project. Clara thoroughly enjoyed her work experience with IARS and feels that she has learnt a lot about the organisation and government policies. She feels that this experience has opened her eyes to the many careers surrounding politics and journalism and would love to stay involved with the organisation in future. "

Clara Collingwood,

"I have been volunteering at IARS since the summer of 2011, and I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the process. Initially choosing to volunteer for IARS became a relatively simple decision due to the main principles that IARS promote and embody. The inclusion of young people within the aspects of social policy and governmental decision was a unique and prominent appeal, as I believe the youth of any generation should not be ignored and have a powerful influence on significant life-changing decisions. I was involved in the Serious Youth Violence on Public Transport project, where I attended fortnightly meetings with other IARS volunteers to discuss and begin to construct the main research question that was to be investigated. I also became involved in the 99% Campaign that IARS hosts, through this campaign I was able to attend the first Core Partner’s Meeting, I wrote an article on the recent riots was also published onto the IARS website, and was quoted online. From these projects I have gained an improved sense of confidence in public speaking, writing, and interacting with those who I may not have had to opportunity to otherwise. Through this experience, not only have I acquired the skills needed for future work, but I also have a greater understanding of the work of independent organisations such as IARS and their valuable work in encouraging those who at present have control over policies in society, to take a chance on those whose opinions may not be valued or heard. Currently I am in my final year at university studying Criminology and Sociology, so after graduation I hopefully will return to IARS to volunteer and gain further valuable experience, so I can possibly gain a career within Social Policy. "

Sherée Prospere,

"Having completed my undergraduate degree I was unsure as to which route I should take. Hence I decided to take a gap year and wanted to use this time as an opportunity to develop my skills and explore what I wanted to do in the future. I found IARS and decided to contribute to the 99% Campaign. Since then I have not only gained first-hand experience in digital campaigning but also learnt so much in relation to youth issues and advocacy. I now believe to be much  more confident and aware of issues in our society and the need to promote positive change. For the near future I  hope to pursue a postgraduate degree in international public policy and apply to the Civil Service. "

Goknur Ozer,

"I joined the 99% campaign last September. It was an strange time for me, as I was making the decision whether or not to go back to university to undertake a postgraduate degree. I made the decision to go back, on the condition that I got involved is sufficient activities beyond my studies that the graduate job market would be (hopefully) more malleable to me in a years’ time than it was then. The 99% campaign became a fundamental part of this. It has given me the opportunity to get my work published online, to engage with policy makers and work with young people. I fully anticipate that it will continue to give me many wonderful opportunities in the forthcoming months. "

Alex McDonald,

"The project has helped me because now I have more confidence. I didn’t know before that I could like speak in between people, I did really not have a voice. Like when we are in the group we are talking about what’s happened to refugee women and you find yourself experiencing the same problems as others. All the women. Before when you didn’t know, you feel like I’m the only one going through this and then when you come to find out that a lot of people are going through the same situation so that gives you courage. "

Denise, Project volunteer

"Initially, I volunteered for the 99% Campaign with a view to contributing articles in my spare time. I ended up being offered the position of intern, which has given me more experience than I ever imagined when I replied to the Do-it advertisement. Firstly, I have gained many valuable skills. Though I did have Twitter and WordPress accounts prior to the Campaign, I had no real knowledge of how to use them or just how powerful tools they can be in getting my voice and opinion out there. I became increasingly adept at using Twitter to form connections with other youth groups, promote the Campaign, and distribute both my own work and that of others via both Twitter and WordPress. Not only this, but the fact that I (as part of a team) planned, organised and presented a workshop to a class of (somewhat unruly!) year 11's was a huge step that greatly increased my confidence. Working on the Campaign has also inspired me to consider a career in this field. Not only am I currently taking a Diploma in Journalism- inspired by my new found ability and love for blogging! It has heightened my interest in political/ current affairs and social policy. These are areas I have always had some interest in, but would now seriously consider pursuing a career in.  "

Ellie Costigan,

Other Volunteer and Intern Testimonials

"As a student, who is majoring in Sociology and Economics in university, my interest has always been in doing research and in policy making. At IARS, I have been given the opportunity to apply my knowledge in research as well as learn more about how we can use our studies to influence policy and tackle important social issues that we face today. The experience gained in this organisation has only made me more passionate about pursuing a career in social policy in the future. "


"I have been an intern here at IARS for the past 7 weeks! It has been overall an amazing experience interning at this organisation. Having it be my first time in the UK I was very nervous about coming here in general, let alone starting a new job in a foreign country. Upon my first day, I felt more than welcome here in the office. It definitely took a few days to adjust to the differences between US and UK office environments. But, once I got comfortable, I felt like I had been here for months. In my brief 7 weeks I feel as though I have learned an incredible amount. Between the two projects I have been working on, Drop-In and Eurodesk, I have learned more about the EU and the UK in general than I had in my 14 years of schooling back in the States. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be able to work with IARS, and very thankful for the experience I gained here. "


"Finding a think tank that is unapologetically dedicated to equality and inclusivity proved difficult – IARS, however, stood out as an organisation that championed justice and community-led solutions to social issues. I have learnt so much, sharpened my research skills, and been exposed to some fascinating people and their incredible work. The IARS office is, in and of itself, a microcosm of the society it strives to establish: inclusive, welcoming, and supportive. Within just a few days, I felt like part of the IARS team. For students or young people seeking an internship where they can actually hold a stake, participate in projects, and widen their skillset, I would strongly recommend considering working with IARS International Institute.  "


"Interning at IARS was one of the best opportunities that I had during my time in London in 2018. I really feel that this little organisation allowed me to not only work in fields that I am passionate about but also work with a great team that is friendly and joyful. I want to personally thank you for allowing me to help you with the projects that you were working on. I feel that not many interns, especially those without a degree such as myself, would be given the chance to work on something so big and important and would usually just be given menial tasks to do (not that there is anything wrong with that, I quite enjoy helping people). I don't really know if the work I did was of much help to you but just being part of it really made work meaningful for me. I am quite happy to say that I never once felt bored in the office. I have learnt a lot just being in this organization and I always feel welcomed which makes this whole experience even more enjoyable. Thanks for giving me all the support as my supervisor and ensuring that my experience here was made as meaningful and comfortable as possible. I will definitely miss you and the team. "

Faris Wong,

"Ifeatu has been volunteering with IARS since September 2010 and so far has contributed a huge amount of her time and effort to working with the team. Ifeatu has been involved in a range of research projects and undertook IARS' Research Methods Training. She was recently nominated to participate in IARS' Take Over Day as part of which she shadowed IARS' Chairperson for a day. She improved her understanding of charity governance. Ifeatu believes that her experience at IARS has been been highly valuable to her future, providing her with skills and essential experiences for seeking employment successfully. "

Ifeatu Nnaobi,

"Anaam has been volunteering with IARS since June 2010. Anaam came to IARS to gain experience in journalism to enable her to realise her ambition of becoming a journalist. Anaam worked with Davina to contribute a thought-provoking article to the Youth Voice journal special edition exploring issues around attitudes towards disability. As part of this volunteering opportunity Anaam has worked with a variety of young disabled people and has become involved in youth-led film opportunities to promote IARS' work. Anaam also particpated in IARS' Research Methods Training. She has built up an impressive CV which will help her fulfill her ambition of becoming a journalist. "

Anaam Raza,

"Jamal Holder first started working with IARS in late September 2010. He applied for an apprenticeship position as a Networks and Outreach Assistant and progressed to the role of Research and Administration Assistant. Before coming to IARS Jamal had been unemployed for over 6 months and was on Job Seekers Allowance. Since starting at IARS he has not only developed practical skills for the workplace but has also enrolled on IARS' Certificate in Youth Policy. Jamal has taken on these challenges enthusiastically and hopes they will enable him to fulfill his dream of opening up his own youth centre. "

Jamal Holder,

"Davina began volunteering with IARS in June 2010, she is currently a student at a local college, and has contributed to the Youth Voice journal special edition, which will be published in 2011. Davina excelled in meeting the journalism challenges of this project and developed skills in working with different people from a range of backgrounds. She undertook  IARS' Research Methods Training as part of her involvement in this project. Davina contributed an article to the journal exploring young people's attitudes towards disability and how this impacts on the way that they relate to the forthcoming Paralympics. She has already developed her understanding of equality and disability issues, and is seeking to share that learning with other young people through her article.   "

Davina Merchant,