Volunteer Spotlight on Sister Eileen McConnon
Sister Eileen McConnon has been supporting the work of Revive since September 2012. Sister Eileen says the best thing about Revive for her, has been the privilege to meet such courageous people who are so brave in adapting to a new country and way of life and helped through the friendship of Revive volunteers, staff and fellow service-users.
What is your volunteer role at Revive?
My role at Revive has expanded since I first started volunteering, as I first started as an ESOL teacher on Wednesdays. I then went on to also be a general helper at Drop-In sessions, and also volunteer in the kitchen on Tuesdays. The parish and area where I live are so willing to support Revive, that one of the parishioners set up a Facebook page ‘Altrincham Friends of Refugees’, from which we have been able to get furniture brought to refugees, Christmas presents to about 70 children, and during this Pandemic, we deliver around 17 parcels of food a week to some of our more vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees. Our Parish of St Vincent’s has hosted several concerts where professional musicians have given their service freely and the proceeds are given to Revive.
How did you first get involved with Revive?
I was introduced to Gervase (Ger) a Christian Brother and volunteer at Revive when I returned to Altrincham. Previously I taught Science in several schools, did community work in Glasgow, and did ESOL training after 6 months teaching English to our younger Indian Sisters.
What are the best things about Revive?
At Revive the staff try to go the extra mile. There is a welcoming atmosphere, and many refugees and asylum seekers are also volunteers, so it is great that we provide them with meals and support.
What has been your highlight so far in your volunteering experience at Revive?
Sudanese gentleman in my class was usually so miserable often weeping as he looked at his phone to see photos of his wife and children back in Sudan. A highlight was when I got to witness the joy of their reunion! I have just recently visited their home to find the children thriving, mum having the house transformed, and dad doing himself proud! Another highlight would be meeting local parents here in Altrincham bringing gifts to our house with their own children saying they were delighted that their children were having the opportunity to help/see children less well off than themselves. We have had some family gatherings here of refugee families and local ones and some spontaneous linking have happened with one Refugee family actually calling the Altrincham family "Mum 2" and "Dad 2”. The locals here are actually about the same age as their parents in Syria. More links have begun to happen through the Corona food scheme.