Guest Blogger Estifanos Habtesellasie is engaged and involved as a Volunteer at MCIL. Here he talks about some of the opportunities that have fallen his way.
“How does MCIL engage me?
I came to become involved in MCIL in late 2014 when I was looking to participate in volunteering work through Merton Volunteering Service Council. I didn’t know anything about the organisation or what use I could be to them. I was given an interview to check whether I’d be up to scratch. It seemed all very formal for a voluntary position, but then again I had very little experience of volunteering. It was decided that I’d do some admin work and take it from there. I was also given the chance to be a member and attend members meetings. In attending members meetings I got to see disabled people who were very different from me. Most of them live independently and had completely different life experiences. I had trouble relating to them initially, but through spending more time at MCIL and going through disability equality training I felt more at ease. I got to learn there is no one way of living, just one that suits you and allows you to have choice. I’ve come to understand the issues that affect us such as spending cuts. Although I tend to be more of a listener than contributor I feel comfortable participating at meetings. Having said that I was on one occasion a facilitator at one of the members groups, regarding the European Network on Independent Living .
With regards to the advocacy and advise work that MCIL does, I had no idea how important this service was to people. The advocates and advisers seem to do a very good job, but it’s a job I’d never do, far too stressful !
How does MCIL include me?
MCIL includes me not only by allowing me to volunteer but also giving me other opportunities. For example just recently I have been visiting residential homes with disabled residents on MCIL’s behalf. I’ve enjoyed writing reports and doing something for MCIL, in partnership with Merton Seniors Forum. There was also a time when I acted as representative for MCIL at a Merton Learning Disabilities Conference. This shows how inclusive MCIL have tried to been with me, somebody who only came here initially to some admin work”.
Estifanos is a volunteer who welcomes opportunities for engagement who uses his enthusiasm for learning by tasting and trying different activities. He has not given a full list of the work he has contributed here.