What You Give is What You Get

Isn’t that something that is so often said with malice or in a negative way?

But today I’ve been thinking about that a lot.

This morning in the cafe everything that I wanted to be happening in the cafe, was happening:

Senior members of the local council and West Yorkshire police had come to find out more about what we were doing and left feeling inspired and enthralled by what they saw.

An English class for refugees and asylum seekers had come to visit and were having an informal lesson around one of the tables.

The team of volunteers were busy preparing sandwiches for lunch for a seminar that was going on in the youth centre next door.

And a local elderly gentleman and his dog walked up as usual for a cup of tea and a natter.

And in the back corner were two young men who had obviously arranged to meet there and were talking over a pad of paper and a pen. After their meeting, they came over to the kitchen area, and asked if they could help.

I was delighted and immediately gave them aprons and set them to work arranging cake on a plate.

It turns out both men are in the immigration system; one a newly arrived Syrian refugee. One of the lucky few you may say who have managed to penetrate our immigration system and be granted leave to remain here and try to start a new life.

The other an Iraqi graduate (from a British university) now seeking asylum here. So the guy offering English and support is actually immersed in his own story of trauma, exile and asylum seeking and actually has less confidence in his status than the newer guy.

On paper, neither of them have anything. But in reality both have so much to offer and are delightful company.

We have been on WhatsApp tonight and I captured his comment in this screenshot which to me is the positive angle of the common phrase, ‘what you give is what you get’.

All of us volunteers say so often that we get so much more out of being part of TLC than we give. And it seems as if that is already happening for these two lone men finding their feet and stumbling upon our cafe where their help is absolutely gratefully received and they are certainly already getting a lot out of the experience of being connected, feeling part of a team, feeling of value and, perhaps, feeling that the future has a little bit more to offer them now.

published by Anna Dyson
Founder and Director of ToastLoveCoffee. CEO of Dyson family, Roundhay (Leeds) branch which involves a huge array of skills impossible to imagine or articulate! Formerly, Jewish educator and community professional.


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