Vanina Yanez is an Argentinian who has been living in Rochdale with her partner and three children since February 2020.
Vanina and her family are asylum seekers and, since arriving in the UK, they have been eager to improve their English language skills but have also helped others who have arrived from different American countries.
"While we wait for the Home Office answer about our status, we started to learn ESOL English in Hopwood Hall College," Vanina said. "In these two years, we had the opportunity to meet many people who are in need with some language support and we could help with our knowledge and experience with some public services as GP, dental care and school support."
The first time she got involved with Cartwheel Arts was when she and her daughter participated in a project named Nature in Danger.
"I was able to see the impact it had on my oldest daughter and the confidence it allowed her to express through activities there. Then, my son Benjamin and I experienced an eight-week project for little ones. I shared with some other families and it helped us to grow as parents. My son could grow up and experience through art - he started to talk!"
While at this project Vanina used her interpretation experience to help some of the other parents to understand and get involved. That contribution motivated her to start volunteering with Cartwheel Arts.
"I knew the project from Cartwheel has a huge impact in children, young people and families. The project is able to help different families with different backgrounds. I saw it with my family and I could see it with others, too."
For Vanina, volunteering has been a rewarding experience, one which has given her a stake in her community and ignited a passion she's keen to pursue. She has now almost completed her L1 Community Interpreting course at Hopwood Hall and is now looking to the future.
"I love the idea of taking part and contributing using the skills I have and those I could acquire. People who do not speak English as a first language could use art and other activities to express how they feel as they settle in this country. Art always is a wonderful resource and that is why Cartwheel Arts has had the positive impact on me. I hope this could be the beginning."