Kathy is a vital part of the LRF family, and a committed advocate for migrants across Leeds. She is Chair of the LRF Board of Trustees, but her community work in Leeds covers far more than just this role.
Born in Iran, Kathy came to Leeds 43 years ago. She studied at university in Leeds and works as a teacher. About 26 years ago, after finding she had time on her hands, Kathy got involved with the Persian Association. At first, she just helped by answering phone calls, but quickly discovered that she could offer a lot more and that she was passionate about charity work. Her work with the Persian Association led her to LRF, where she has been providing invaluable support ever since.
When asked why she enjoys this often-difficult work, she said, “usually people that turn to charity organisations have really exhausted all of their options. They come desperate and, when you give them hope, when you offer them some kind of solution, the smile on their face is the most rewarding thing.”
This is exactly what she loves about LRF – you can clearly see the success of its projects and the positive results for refugee communities. In particular, Kathy praises LRF for being a vital information hub. Refugee communities usually depend on each other for so much, and Kathy speaks about how it isn’t only the Iranian community that benefits from her links to LRF, but also the Iraqi, the Kurdish, the Afghani and so many more.
Leeds has at least changed for the better in this regard: these communities are more established and other Leeds organisations are better equipped to support them. To Kathy, the city is noticeably more accepting of foreigners, and much better at adapting to their varying needs. Now when you call up somewhere, they recognise you and are often aware of your needs. This initial step isn’t always a battle anymore.
Personally, Kathy loves Leeds, even though she describes herself as “not a city girl”. It is calm and green, and Kathy thinks it has “everything you want from a city, without the hassle of a city”. This is quite a change from Tehran, where she lived in Iran. She recalls how she thought Leeds was boring at first because there wasn’t the constant accompaniment of car horns.
She still likes to get back to Iran as often as possible to see family, and travels to America to see her brothers, though she now starts to miss Leeds if gone for more than a couple days. Kathy says, “we call it boring but that’s just another word for not having bad excitement, or the ups and downs of life. I don’t miss that. I’ve often called it boring but then something happens and I wish it could go back to boring.” It’s a sobering reminder of some of the reasons people in the LRF community have had to flee their homes. We’re glad to be able to work together to make their lives a little more boring.