Life as an Athlone volunteer: Arshad Butt

Since Arshad Butt left his home of Pakistan to travel to Ireland in 2009, the Athlone community has gained a passionate worker for refugees, asylum seekers and those in need.

Arshad is a very busy volunteer, allocating his time and efforts for the benefit of the people of Athlone, as well as for asylum seekers forced to abandon their own country.

The New Horizon Athlone, a support group for refugees and asylum seekers, was initially the focal point for Arshad's work.

Today, The Human Appeal Athlone charity shop that has recently opened on Connaught Street is where he spends much of his time, both volunteering and as a retail supervisor.

This non-profit charity organisation works in more than 28 countries, including Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The charity's vision is "to create a just and peaceful world free from poverty and suffering".

Arshad's experience as a worker and volunteer have been pleasant, and he is eternally grateful for the support and help of the Athlone people, and for the many services available in the locality. He says volunteering has contributed to helping him feel more secure and at home since making the move to Ireland and Athlone.

He says the Irish people he has encountered through his work as a volunteer have been "very friendly and co-operate", and believes those in asylum or new to the country should reap the many benefits offered by volunteering.

"Irish people, when I came here with my daughters, they were very friendly. Back in the early days, my daughter was 15 or 16 and starting school in Ireland. They helped her find her class. I feel glad to live here and am very delighted when I meet with other people in the community," he said.

When asked how locals can help charities Arshad's response was simple: by volunteering. All donations to and purchases from charity shops also go a long way to helping people in need, he added.

For further information on volunteering groups mentioned, visit the following websites:

The Human Appeal charity: https://www.facebook.com/HumanAppeal.ie/

Athlone Community Radio: https://athlonecommunityradio.ie/

New Horizon Athlone: http://newhorizonathlone.org/

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