We caught up with Casework Volunteer Coordinator, Daniel McMahon, to find out more about the challenges of remote working, video bombing pets, and becoming a dad during lockdown.
Tell us a bit about your job

I support volunteers doing front line work with refugees and asylum seekers and I try to ensure that they have everything they need. The caseworkers are our biggest group of volunteers. They help refugees and asylum seekers to access housing, healthcare, education and financial support.

What’s the best thing about working for Scottish Refugee Council?

It’s inspiring to be around people who are all trying their best to help people facing very difficult circumstances, and who are trying to turn the tides of quite a negative, bleak political climate. I’m so lucky, as I get to work with every team across the whole organisation. I feel like I get a really good overview of what is happening and to learn from others.

How has Covid-19 affected your role?

I started in November, so all I know is lockdown. It’s a bit different supporting volunteers over the phone or via WhatsApp, ZOOM, and text rather than face-to-face. In the office, I imagine that we’d be seeing each other all the time and there would be a lot of informal catching up.

Casework volunteering stopped during the first lockdown so a lot of volunteers have been helping with conversations in English for speakers of other languages. Volunteers phone up clients who want to practice their English for an informal chat. It helps people who are quite isolated to feel more connected and also gives them a chance to speak English.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Definitely the lack of face-to-face contact. The work we do is person-centred and it is always different. I would love to grab a coffee with the volunteers and be able to share food again.

It’s amazing how interesting my home-working desk becomes to my cats as soon as I have a video-call! During one workshop my cat walked across my keyboard and looked straight into the camera while I was speaking. I was completely eclipsed by a giant cat face. There is something a bit Cats the musical about it.

What is the best and worst thing about working from home?

The best thing is spending more time with my cats and partner. I become a dad in the autumn, so now hobbies include pram walks on sunny days and making silly faces.The worst thing would have to be sooo much screen time.

Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb