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ICM Case Study - Meet R

Updated: Apr 15

Meet R.

R was born 1983 and grew up in Galatz in Romania. He had a happy childhood and studied plumbing at a technical school. His education was cut short when his mother became ill and he started work to support his family. R helped care for his mother up until her death in 2001. The death was devastating for the family, his father began drinking heavily and their relationship broke down resulting in R leaving for Greece in 2004.

R remained in Greece until 2016, mainly working in agriculture, until the economy went into crisis and he moved to the UK to work in the care sector as a support worker. Unfortunately, in 2020, whilst working as a healthcare assistant, he suffered a severe neck and shoulder injury the result of his employer’s neglect.

The injuries had a major consequence for R’s life, he was unable work in the care sector or do any type of manual work and now relies on state benefits until his compensation claim is settled.  He is still in continuous pain which require prescribed medication and physical therapy to manage. His injuries impacted his ability to manage his personal care, to pursue personal relationships and damaged his mental health.

R became depressed, his self-esteem and confidence plummeted and he isolated himself. Work had been a crucial part of R’s identity, giving him a sense of pride, independence and increased life choices, now this was gone he felt he had lost everything.

In May 2022 R became a learner, with ICM, and passed Entry 2 and 3 English examinations. Two months later he became a volunteer and Community Champion.

"My motivation to make a difference for myself and the wider Ipswich community has been transformative. I've found solace from social isolation, gained confidence, and reclaimed a sense of purpose that I once thought was lost forever"

R began by supporting and interpreting for learners in two classes. He also translated documents and posters/flyers, on behalf of ICM, for the local GP federation, NHS’s cervical screening drive and St Elizabeth Hospice Compassionate Communities, as well as illustrating the slides for the joint ICM-NHS Maternity Project and assisting in the ICM office with interpreting and form filling for Romanian speakers.

Whilst volunteering he studied with WEA and achieved his Level 1 and 2 Interpreters qualification. This year he will receive a Silver Star Award from the WEA in the career support category.

Following this R’s volunteering activities have exploded. He began volunteering at the Hive helping SPEAK to deliver English classes to Romanian speakers. Through his own experience, and that of others, R realised that Ipswich’s Romanian people needed more help than was currently available.

With guidance and support from ICM he set up Ipswich Romanian Community. IRC is a CIC, it offers general support and help to Romanian speakers and works in partnerships with other charities and local organisations promoting Romanian values, culture and traditions.

It has over 100 members and is growing, R is the director. Romanian speakers do not have to be members of IRC to benefit. To date over 4,000 acts of help or general support have been provided to individuals covering areas such as, finding employment and housing, accessing education and health care, the completion of documents to achieve UK settled status and to facilitate communication with local government bodies. 

IRC works in partnership with IBC using their interpreting/translation skills as a part of a multi-disciplinary approach, in specific areas of Ipswich, to prevent anti-social behaviour and improve school attendance. They have also contributed to the Healthwatch Suffolk Tackling Poverty Together project and partnered with Suffolk Libraries promoting basic English courses and made alliances with the Ipswich Roma community. At Christmas IRC created the Lets Christmas Together project and in conjunction with Tesco they produced food parcels for distribution to struggling families and ran a festive social event.

They also run regular formal and informal social and support meetings. R individually arranged and helped run arts/craft sessions for Healthwatch Suffolk and contributed art work and ran workshops for the Arrivals exhibition at the Hold, Suffolk Archives.

Plans in development for this year, so far, include a picnic in the park to celebrate Romanian National Children’s Day, a Romanian Film Festival, and in collaboration with the New Wolsey Theatre a Romanian Cultural Festival. R is currently in talks with the Romanian Ambassador to the UK to arrange that voting for the Romanian elections will take place in Ipswich. His aim is for IRC to achieve charitable status, to continue to grow and motivate more people to achieve their potential, “from nothing to something”.  

R has been the driving force behind the creation of IRC and through hard work and determination many beneficial acts, positive partnerships and events that have already come to fruition. His impact on the lives of Romanian people in Ipswich has been huge and as a consequence also the wider community.

R is not stopping here, and as a formidable user of social media is constantly promoting IRC, and seeking other mutually beneficial partnerships.

He is motivated to make things better for his and the wider Ipswich community, his endeavors have reduced his social isolation, increased his confidence and self-esteem and given meaning to a life he once thought was over.

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