I’m a 21 year old asylum seeker from Sri Lanka. I moved to the UK when I was 10 years old. I would describe myself as someone who is highly motivated and ambitious. When I finally get my leave to remain in the UK I’d like to pursue a career in medicine. Despite getting many offers from my chosen universities I have not been able to start due to my immigration status. In the meantime I have been volunteering at various organisations. I have a passion for working with the homeless, people with a history of drug addiction, and refugees as well as the youth.


How did you first hear about the project and what made you sign up (e.g. what were your expectations)?

I first heard about the project through the Plymouth and Devon racial equality council. When I read about the project I thought it was such an exciting opportunity to equip future women leaders and I instantly wanted to be a part of it. Going to the House of Lords was a bonus! 

I believe as women, it’s important for us to develop our leadership skills so that we can be in more positions of power in this society. That is the only way equality can be achieved!!

What did you think of the training (e.g. both when you were there and upon reflection)?

Going into the training I was quite nervous as many of us didn’t know each other but within couple of hours we got to so comfortable and opened up to each other. There was definitely something special about our group. Making friends with this lovely group of women made this experience even more special. 

Tebs and Evelina did a wonderful job in training us. We investigated and explored what makes a successful leader and a leader of social change. We covered topics related to power, organisational cultures and structures, the relationship between leadership and empowerment, self-care and emotional intelligence as well as building skills on public speaking and advocacy.

Each topic was laid out so clearly and was clearly taught. The public speaking activity was my favourite as it allowed us to step out of our comfort zones. 

What was your social action project and why did you choose this idea?

On the first day of training we shared one thing that we thought had shaped us into becoming the women we are today and we found that we all have a unique message to convey to the world despite our differences. So, we created a booklet showcasing both our diversity and our shared humanity through our voices and stories called Voices (un)heard, Stories (un)told. 

In an age of silencing and social division, the aim of our campaign was to have our voices heard and to show that despite our differences, we have a shared humanity!

What was the group work/peer learning like?

Initially there were several of us who felt as though we struggled to have our voices heard and to express ourselves but over time we became so comfortable with each other and we were confident enough to share our truths with each other in the group and recognise the value in our experiences.

Group work helped us to get to know each other better and make connections within the group. 

The group discussions were useful as we got a chance to listen to each other’s opinions and get different perspective on different topics. As a group we learnt so much from listening to each other.

How has the project impacted you personally?

I have learnt many lessons in leadership and empowerment by being involved in this project. I was so inspired by some of the women leaders I met at the showcase event, it almost encouraged me to go out there and do more for the society to make our voices heard!

This project has empowered me to take charge in life and to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I wouldn’t normally do. I feel like I have more self confidence in myself and I feel like I can do anything if I set my mind to it. 

Through this training I have also learnt to take care of myself, as I have to look after myself and love myself in order for me to look after and love others around me. 

Going forward, I will no longer let the fact that I’m an asylum seeker define who I am. I am more than that. I have a purpose and I will go out there and do what I can to serve this society and to make myself useful. 

Is there anything else you want to mention?

I want to say thank you to Evelina, Tebs and WRC for the wonderful training they’ve provided for us. Thank you for putting so much time and effort into us. I can definitely say that this project has exceeded all my expectations.  

Thank you to SW for agreeing to be a case study for this project and for your commitment, engagement,Illustration of woman with text voices (un)heard) at the top and stories (un)told at the bottom. Front cover of the booklet. and contributions throughout this project. SW participated in the pilot of the Women's Leadership for Social Change programme in 2018-2019 and was a member of the Plymouth group. This case study was written in March 2019. For a version of the booklet created by the Plymouth group, please contact WRC on [email protected]