Introducing Richard Evans – new Volunteer Coordinator
16th February 2023
This is my first experience of working alongside new arrivals to the UK, in an organisation that has been set up to specifically cater for your / their individual needs and aspirations. Our participants demonstrate strength and determination when faced with adversity – qualities which I admire. It has been a pleasure to meet so many people with hope, ambition, and such a wide variety of skills and qualities. Although our participants have left their own nations I am pleased that, as they start new lives, we have the ability to support them the best we can to feel welcome here.
I have now worked for New Routes within a variety of roles. For me the core objective of each role has been to support our new arrivals to get established, advance integration, and encourage aspiration. My Volunteering Coordinator role now fits this perfectly, especially as we establish the first group of volunteers with lived-experience to be trained to do voluntary work within New Routes, and volunteer or gain work experience externally too as suits them, their interests, skills and desire to progress into various types of future working life.
When I was ten years old my family moved from rural Essex to a market town in North Wales (think Gavin and Stacey, for fans of the British television comedy). I had to grow up in area which was very nationalistic, where English immigrants were perceived as a threat to Welsh culture, employment opportunities, property values, and the survival of the Welsh language. For my first year in primary school I was never quite sure if people were speaking English or Welsh. I went to the local bilingual school. So, although I can pronounce the longest place name of any town in the UK (”Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”), I pretty much remained on loan from England. Since then I have worked all over England. Along with a few stints abroad.
A turning point came in my working life when, at age 27, within one year I went from running a hotel in the French Alps to residential care work with adolescents with extreme emotional and behavioural issues. I guess that I was less bothered about the quality of people’s skiing holidays, and more bothered about improving the quality of vulnerable people’s lives! That ‘temporary stop-gap occupation’ turned into a quarter of a century where, for the most part, I have supported vulnerable people in one project, service, initiative or another.
I have worked for many charities, Children’s Services, health providers, colleges, schools, …….all quite challenging roles, and at a variety of differing levels of responsibility.
When I turned fifty in 2018, having acknowledged that I had never really stretched myself academically, I gained an MA in International Social Development from the University of East Anglia (UEA). Since then the pandemic prevented a two year work contract alongside the Government of Tanzania, and now here I am at New Routes. This opportunity that came along at the right time, with plenty of scope to apply experience gained from other related sectors and my own childhood experiences, which have stayed with me.
At first I thought we were called New Roots. In some respects either name applies. People come here to establish new roots. But I am all for people empowering themselves to take and make the most of different directions in life. So New Routes is fine by me – a more apt name for our philosophy and our participants.
I look forward to meeting you and potentially working with you.
Posted in: News