“You might not solve every problem, but every small, positive change adds up,” says Allan one of our helpline advisers. Today we’re shining the spotlight on the vital work of our helpline colleagues. Three of our national helpline advisors – Meg, Allan, and Ben – share their insights.

Q1. In a few words describe the situations you deal with on the helpline.

Allan: “Urgent, complex, and unique.”

Meg: “Heartbreaking. The injustice can be angering, but people’s strength and resilience is inspiring.”

Ben: “People call our helpline when they’re facing difficult and deeply personal situations that usually require immediate attention.”

Q2. What does the helpline offer people?

Ben: “Our helpline offers a lifeline to people. We provide emergency intervention, advice, and connections to crucial support systems.”

Meg: “We offer a non-judgmental, empathetic space where people can be heard and supported, and empowered to navigate the challenges they face.”

Allan: “We connect people with opportunities, like English language classes and social groups, and signpost them to local charities that can help with essential needs like food, clothing, and household items, etc.

In the space of a day, the helpline team can tackle multiple pressing cases. Here are some snapshots from a couple of hours on the helpline with Allan, Meg and Ben. The team:

  • supported a pregnant woman who had no access to public funds, was struggling to buy food, and was worried about nutrition for her unborn baby.

  • advocated on behalf of a disabled person with refugee status who keeps getting moved hotels. The lack of a fixed address hindered their ability to access other services.

  • advised someone who had been granted refugee status and had only 2 days left to move out of their Home Office accommodation. They were worried about becoming homeless.

Q3. What advice would you give to anyone interested in doing this role?

Allan: “It isn’t an easy job, but the reward is knowing your hard work makes a real difference to people. You might not solve every problem, but every small, positive change adds up.”

Meg: “It can be hard to accept you don’t have all the answers or the ability to fix things. When you’re at your limits, lean on others, and reach out for solutions and support.”

Ben: “It has its difficulties but work can be extremely rewarding. You have to accept a degree of insecurity.”

Every day, our advisers are advocates and problem solvers. They connect people with vital resources, help them navigate bureaucracy, and most importantly, offer a ray of hope in the darkness of displacement.

Q4. What gives you personal satisfaction in your role?

Allan: “Being able to make someone’s welcome to Scotland a bit more positive in a politically hostile environment.”

Meg: “Little moments of connection, like sending someone a message and getting an emoji back.”

Ben: “Receiving positive feedback, and often being told by clients ‘thank you for listening to me.”

These are the moments that fuel our advisers, the moments that remind us that our helpline is a lifeline.

Find out more about our national helpline or support our work with refugees in Scotland and make a donation.

Laura Delaney
Author: Laura Delaney