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Could you put yourself in their shoes?

One of the things I enjoy about working at PARCA as the Outreach Manager is that it brings me into contact with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and nationalities. Some have recently come to the UK under difficult circumstances as asylum seekers or refugees, whilst others are well on the way to settling into a new way of life, often having overcome language and cultural challenges.

In offering support I’ve often thought about how they must feel and ask myself the question “Can I put myself in their shoes?”. Not only is this a ‘great leveller’ but it helps communication flow with empathy and compassion. Whilst I’ve never had to flee a war-torn country, I can relate to being in situations where I didn’t speak the native language. As a child I have vivid memories of starting school at the age of 4 and not being able to speak any English apart from a few words I’d picked up from my older siblings. My parents were both from the Ukraine so that was the language that was primarily spoken in our household.

Even at that young age I recall the feelings of isolation and sometimes fear of stepping into the unknown. It must have been the same for my parents too. They arrived separately from the Ukraine landing on UK shores in the 1950’s. This being well before the days of Google Translate, I’m sure they must have had language and social barriers to overcome too. Fortunately for them there was the Ukrainian Club in Cobden Street, Peterborough. At the time this was a great venue for the Ukrainian community to find support and to socialise together, and needless to say that is where my parents actually met.

Parca is here to offer help, support and advice to anyone that may find themselves in a similar situation regardless of nationality and I feel privileged to be able to ‘put myself in their shoes’.

If you are in need of support or would like to volunteer for PARCA please contact us on 01733 563420 or email

Marija Lysak,

Outreach Manager

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