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Volunteering at PARCA

I have been invited to write some words on the matter of how my involvement with PARCA germinated into being - PARCA is a community embedded refugee and asylum seeker charity - I am thrilled to be writing this.

My heritage is West African and I feel part of an African diaspora. I was raised in London (UK) in a family comprising of two brothers, one older and one younger. At home I was known by the traditional West African name of Kole, (pronunciation: K as the c in cost, O as the o in ox, L as l in log, and E as the e in in exit), this is the shortened version of the fuller Bankole which means, literally, one who brings the house or family together, or to put it another way, a house builder.

My voluntary role with PARCA started 6 months ago; then, I was a new arrival in Peterborough having moved from the intense metropolis of London needing to put some freshness and change in my life - in this respect I feel I have something in common with those who for a myriad of reasons are unsettled and have become displaced in the place they think of (or thought of) as home - Although London is familiar terrain I became increasingly concerned about ongoing survival in this metropolis.

Due in part to poor hearing and marked visual sensory loss London was becoming increasingly fraught with bad experiences, in areas of social interaction and housing. I came to the realisation that I was no longer thriving in this environment and needed to move; I decided on Peterborough Now in Peterborough, I was keen to participate in a useful way within my new environment by working in a voluntary capacity. To meet these ends ideas were blended between me and an owl- wise friend who suggested it would be a good thing if I were able to exploit my transferable skills, make use of my friendly disposition and keenness to forge new social & formal friendship and networks in a teaching support capacity in helping those who are new to the English language to learn the English language with its kaleidoscopic intricacies.

I have found PARCA to be a place where a bunch of nations and cultures softly collide, and coalesce under one roof for common purposes, one being to work at learning the English tongue. I feel, in both a small and big way, part of a community of people who are themselves members of a local and global society for whom learning is a common objective. I am building a house.

Paul Iwala (Peterborough, May 2023)

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