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Volunteer at HFVC from the Netherlands
By Iwan Vaandrager

My name is Iwan; I am 16 years old and go to a bilingual school in the Netherlands. As part of my studies I had the opportunity to go on a volunteering experience in an English speaking country and as my family had friends in London, I chose the UK.

The day after I arrived in London, I could start right away. I biked to HFVC and met the Head of Youth, Luisa Messina, a very open and welcoming person. The fact that she had a slight Italian accent made me feel more comfortable with my Dutch one. We talked about my stay and what I would be doing during my time at HFVC. I then went along with Ben (Youth Mentoring Coordinator) to HAFAD, a local disability organisation, for a music workshop he was running to help young people record songs for Refugee Week.

The next day was a very special day, the start of Volunteers’ Week 2012. HFVC was holding an event in Lyric Square to promote volunteering and to raise funds for the centre. After setting up, a Romanian girl, Juliana, taught me how to make balloon figurines including dogs, swords, magic wands and flowers. Once you know how to do it, it is surprisingly easy. At the beginning I was quite nervous as I had to go up to strangers with their kids and offer them balloons. But in the end it was a lot of fun – I even became a balloon expert!

I really enjoyed my time with HFVC. You can make many people happy, meet new people and make new friends. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming at the centre and I would love to do it all again!