My Time With Refugee Legal Support Athens
It is difficult to relay into words the experience I have obtained from RLS. Just like every picture we take does not justify the beauty of what we are trying to capture, only once I started working with RLS did I realise how much dedication and hard work is being put into running this organisation to help asylum seekers in Greece.
I remember reading about RLS and thinking it would be a perfect place for me to dedicate my time and effort into sharing the skills I have picked up from my career as a full time immigration and public law lawyer in the UK. Coming from a background where I spend most of my free time helping provide aid to refugees across Europe, it came to my attention that maybe it was time for me to finally work with a charity where I can use my legal skills to help people.
Anisa and Efi (RLS Project Coordinator) during a casework meeting
I started volunteering at RLS in mid March. The time I have spent in Athens has made me realise so much about how asylum applications are processed in Greece. From the major delaying of asylum interviews to having the roof over your head stripped away from you once you are granted refugee status in Greece. I was surprised how the Greek system is all over the place when it comes to asylum seekers- almost like an incomplete jigsaw. I only got to realise after working with RLS what my clients in the UK meant when they would tell me ‘we left Greece because the asylum process there is very bad’.
Despite this, having worked with RLS, I have come to the realisation that this is the place where the real issues are being tackled when it comes to helping refugees. RLS has become a lighting beacon for so many asylum seekers who require the correct advice and assistance, which they would not have received otherwise. Whilst working at RLS I witnessed the desperate situations many asylum seekers have been put in and seen how RLS is trying their utmost best to aid them. It made me realise how much help RLS is providing them, whether that means guiding them through their asylum interview process or reuniting them with their loved ones across Europe.
During my time at RLS I have been welcomed with open arms into working with the organisation and been provided with the opportunity to put my skills into action. I also got to meet some amazing individuals from RLS and SolidarityNow. The atmosphere here has been amazing, especially when I know I am working with likeminded people whose purpose is to help people. The work being done in the Solidarity Centre (where RLS is based) is just amazing and it continues to amaze me how dedicated the team is.
It saddens me to know I cannot spend more time in Athens due to my work commitments in the UK, however I can definitely say that this has been an inspiring experience and I aim to continue to help RLS in the near future.
Anisa Ali is an Immigration and Public law lawyer from Duncan Lewis Solicitors