I’m originally from Syria. I was in middle school when I fled to Lebanon due to the war. I kept studying and manged to get a scholarship for a nursing degree. But after graduation, I couldn’t register as a nurse with the Ministry of Labour because of my Syrian nationality. It’s very challenging to find work in Lebanon for refugees. My only option was working informally in a hospital intensive care unit. It was very intense work – especially during Covid times – and I was working long hours for basically nothing.
Life was very restricted. If on your days off you want to do something, it has to be restricted to the city you are in. The checkpoint is like a horror movie because you never know what they will tell you over there. For them, you are always a refugee. You cannot have time for yourself. You cannot enjoy yourself. You just have to focus on living, eating and sleeping and that's it until you go back to your country.
I found out about Talent Beyond Boundaries through a friend, who had two sisters who had applied to be nurses abroad. At first, I didn’t want to apply thinking it would just give me false hope. But eventually I did my application and two days later I got a call about an opportunity with the NHS England Refugee Nursing Support program.
I came to the UK in 2022 with thirty other nurses, but I was the only one with a Syrian passport. I was really stressed about travelling but it went really smooth. I couldn’t believe that I’m actually just going through and everything is fine.
I was expecting to be a general nurse, but my hospital supported me to transition from general nursing into mental health nursing. When I was working in Lebanon, the people I saw in my hospital weren’t just physically unhealthy, they were more mentally devastated. I’ve seen people in war, especially post-trauma. No one would understand what’s wrong with them. They couldn’t get the appropriate help for this because there’s no specialist.
I’ve chosen the path of mental health for a reason and raising awareness is one of my priorities. I know how much a person can deny when it comes to mental health, but I learned never to underestimate it. We are all prone and we all need support, but most importantly we need to look out for ourselves. And a huge part of my job is to look after people who couldn’t look after themselves and help them get back there.
I feel proud to be able to work with my degree – not just escape like a refugee but to come here as a skilled worker. I feel better about myself and I want to study further and get higher degrees – and I feel happy to be in a place that will support me to do this.
Yasin was supported to resettle in the UK and work in the NHS by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)and Talent Beyond Boundaries.
IOM is the leading inter-governmental organisation in the field of migration and is part of the United Nations system. IOM helps displaced people access labour mobility routes and facilitates integration into the labour market, through tailored integration support to both employers and displaced talents.
Talent Beyond Boundaries works with governments, partners, and the private sector to ensure that refugees have equitable access to skilled migration as a complementary pathway out of displacement.