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TAAS employee shares story during National Inclusion Week

TAAS employee shares story during National Inclusion Week

As people, we operate within many different networks. These networks influence our perspectives, beliefs and ideas. Usually, we form our networks around shared experiences, where we work, where we live, shared interests, etc. As a result, our networks are often made up of people ‘most like us.’

The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS) has been taking action to create an inclusive workplace and celebrating inclusion throughout the charity and has spent this week speaking with employees from diverse backgrounds.

Zahra Fayazi (37) arrived in the UK in August 2021 after fleeing from Kabul, Afghanistan when the Taliban invaded.

Zahra studied Business Administration and Concentration Management at the American University of Afghanistan – the top university in the country- and worked as an Executive Assistant at a national and international firm.

Zahra played for the Afghan national women’s volleyball team for seven years before stepping into a coaching position, where she enjoyed coaching the national team.

As being an athlete and coach was unpaid, Zahra began working as an interpreter for the UK government to earn money to build her future.

In anticipation of the Taliban taking over Kabul, Zahra was supported and helped to relocate to the UK, with her family, thanks to her career with the government.

“I am so happy and lucky that I could leave the country before the Taliban took over,” said Zahra.

“Interpreters were under serious threat – most of whom were killed by the group – and that’s why we were helped in leaving the country to seek safety,” she added.

When she arrived in the UK, Zahra and her family – including three daughters – stayed in a hotel for three months, before being offered housing in Rugby, Warwickshire.

“I’ve adjusted mine and my children’s lives to settle here and start a new life. It was difficult as I had no family or friends here, but I have had so much support and help through new friendships, and all these things helped me find myself here,” continued Zahra.

Since settling here, Zahra has joined a local volleyball club, learnt more English academically, and was on the lookout for a volunteering job – as charities and helping people is a passion of hers.

In her search, Zahra came across The Air Ambulance Service through its variety of volunteering positions, and after reading more about the service, she then looked further for a permanent position with the charity.

“I read about the wonderful service, and after understanding the charity’s culture and structure I looked for an opportunity to work with them,” she said.

“I found the Executive Support Administrator role and thankfully I was offered an interview, and then the job, and I was so happy – it was a very fair and inclusive process.”

Zahra has been working for the lifesaving charity for two months now and has settled into TAAS life well.

“I’m so happy to be here among nice people – everyone is kind and passionate about their jobs and I see everyone here at TAAS as my family.

“I love to help people, and we may be behind the desk, but we are all involved in helping to save lives through our jobs,” she explained.

Zahra is very interested in progressing her career through the organisation and is forward-thinking about helping more people in the future- especially more women and children in Afghanistan.

“We can learn, go to school, and work here – others back home don’t have a right to do this. I am thankful I can work for a brilliant charity, that my children can go to school and play sports, I just wish Afghan women and children can have their rights back too,” she said.

Zahra enjoys living in safety and how welcoming everyone has been to her and her family, and had this piece of advice for others struggling:“Your circumstances may sadly change, like mine – sometimes you have to change your mind and your goals, but it doesn’t mean you can’t go forward and make a better version of yourself despite the setbacks.”