Young Birmingham refugee wins National Volunteering Award

Recognition for worker who began volunteering to help settle into Britain.

A devoted charity volunteer and young refugee from Birmingham has been honoured with a National Volunteering Award from The Children’s Society to recognise her outstanding contribution to the charity.

Maya Ghazal, 17, came to the UK from Syria two years ago to seek a new life with her family and turned to The Children’s Society’s My Place project in Birmingham which helped her to make friends and settle into life in England.

After getting help from the charity Maya decided to give something back and started training as a volunteer speaker to spread the word and make others aware of the charity’s life-changing work.

Maya, who less than two years ago spoke no English, is now looking forward to university next year and speaks in churches and schools around the country on behalf of The Children’s Society in her spare time.

Volunteer speakers use their skills and passion to reach out to different audiences in their communities, inspiring people about the charity’s work with children facing poverty, neglect or family crisis.

Maya makes communities aware of the plight of young refugees and migrants as well as other vulnerable children that are supported by The Children’s Society.

On receiving her award Maya said: “It was a wonderful surprise to receive the National Volunteering Award for my contribution to the charity!”

“I didn’t know anyone when I first came to England and I felt really isolated but ever since I started going to The Children’s Society’s project in Birmingham I made new friends and was filled with so much hope for the future.

“I really enjoy volunteering and I’ve seen the amazing work the charity does to help vulnerable children so that’s what inspires me to keep on spreading the word.”

The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed said: “It was an absolute honour to present Maya with the award to say thank you from The Children’s Society. Over the last year the charity has had 10,000 volunteers supporting our work so winning this award is an amazing achievement and we are enormously grateful for her contribution.

“Maya is a true champion and an inspiration to all. Everyone who meets her and hears her talk is moved by her story and overwhelmed by her bravery, ambition and charm Volunteers like her form such a vital part of our mission to change children’s lives and we wouldn’t be able to do it without people like her. We work to help children and young people who have nowhere left to turn, so with the support of inspiring people like Maya we’re able to continue our life-changing work”.

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