by Fatima Iqbal, WAM UK Steering Committee
Are you looking for an exciting new volunteering opportunity? Look no further. East London is a stark contrast of looming skyscrapers and council estates. Although providing the headquarters for many leading global companies, the area also has a high level of youth unemployment.
Last month WAM UK hosted a panel discussion with the East London Business Alliance (ELBA) a network that seeks to connect businesses with the community in East London, offering more than 14,000 volunteer opportunities to support over 500 East London initiatives and organisations. Alison White, ELBA’s Programme Director explained how ELBA works with the community and business partners to create the right voluntary opportunities, which can be as varied as volunteering in sustainability, supporting employment programs to mentoring.
The panel boasted an inspiring line-up of women working in microfinance and social entrepreneurship, highlighting the volunteering opportunities that exist within their organisations.
Amongst the panellists was Lisa Taylor from the Newham Micro-enterprise project. Lisa described how her organisation helps to both develop small enterprises to support older and disabled people, as well as providing advice and grants of up to £2,000 to older and disabled entrepreneurs to help them start their own micro-enterprises.
Three of the project’s beneficiaries provided remarkable stories of how the project has supported them and given them an opportunity – whether it’s working in a community garden project, creating their own jewellery brand or organising a peer support group.
Asma Shah, founder of You Make It, who run an empowerment scheme, Ladies who L-EARN, helps young women into employment. Young women often lack the support, opportunity and role models to successfully pursue a career in their chosen fields but this six month project provides enterprise support, intense workshops and paid work placements to help them. Asma invited two young women to share how L-EARN helped them secure unique work placements that led to finding full time employment.
A key learning from the event was how a strong professional network can empower young women and women with disabilities. There are lots of interesting volunteer opportunities currently available with ELBA and You Make it, we’ve listed some below:
- Host career insight visits for Year 9 and 12 students
- Website creation for a financial services charity
- Lunch and Learn – lunchtime talks in Stratford
You Make It
- New chair for the charity
- Host a work placement for 2-4 weeks
- Sponsor a fundraising event