By Neha Soni
Local resident Neha Soni has been volunteering with the Heston West Big Local for just under a year.
In this time Neha has been involved with our Youth Action Team's summer campaign on Life Skills and Politics and has supported in a number of community activities and events.
Through volunteering with the Big Local, Neha gained the skills, experience and confidence to gain a paid internship role with our local MP Seema Malhotra. We are very proud to have played an important role in helping Neha achieve this fantastic goal.
We thank Neha for the great work she has done for us and wish her the very best in her new role. In November 2017, Neha also received the Big Local Star Community Volunteer 2017 Award for her outstanding effort and contribution to the Big Local.
Read Neha's personal volunteering journey below.
My name is Neha Soni and I am 22 years old. Last year, I graduated with a degree in Politics, International Relations and Philosophy. I enjoyed my degree and knew that I wanted to work in the political sector in the future but I soon realised this harder than it seemed. I was working as a team leader in a retail store throughout my degree and I was not enjoying it. I decided to volunteer abroad with International Citizen Service for three months in Zimbabwe. I taught in primary and secondary schools and had the experience of a lifetime. I learnt how charities work and the impact one person could make in a community. When I came home, I returned to my retail job and decided it was time for a change.
"Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, have fun and gain new skills. It was especially useful for me, as I now possess the skills needed for my current role..."
Before our campaign to increase community awareness on HIV/AIDS
Later, I left my retail job and applied for jobs in the political sector. I did not have much experience aside from my degree, so I applied for volunteer roles too. I volunteered with Big Local Heston West and other charities to help build my skills. I enjoyed my time volunteering much more than my retail job and I was learning a lot more; I was interacting with community members in a fun environment, positively contributing to my community, gaining more confidence and working in a motivated team. At a Big Local community event, I spoke to my local MP about job opportunities and I am now working in my local MP's office. If I did not volunteer I would not have had the opportunity to work for my MP. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, have fun and gain new skills. It was especially useful for me, as I now possess the skills needed for my current role and I have a new perspective on how I can make a difference.
By Serena Lola
Juhi Kumra and Haroon Lukka jointly won the Big Local Youth Leadership Awards for 2017
On Friday the 24th of November Big Local members and people of the community (as well as family and friends) gathered to celebrate another successful year at Heston West Big Local and reward everyone for their hard work last year. Everyone enjoyed a night of fun, food and fabulous performances along with the award ceremony for all the hard workers in the Big Local.
The event began with some spectacular performances such as Azon and Milton Ferreira as well as many others, which truly made it an amazing event and a great way to start the evening. Throughout this we had our journey of Heston West, which was presented by two of our young volunteers- Juhi and Mustafa. This highlighted all the tremendous things we did over the year and showed what we can all achieve when we work together as a community. From holding small community gatherings to going to parliament we truly did a lot and this event was all about celebrating that and the difference we made in our community.
If that wasn’t enough we then were shown the fantastic videos made by the Sunday film making club which ranged from showcasing our events to tackling social issues through film. This really showed the true spirit of Heston west and what it’s all about and you can find all of these videos on our YouTube channel. This showcase of videos was a real joy for everyone to watch and even the volunteers in them who were in them and cringing the whole way through!
Then came the main event: the awards presentation and this year was particularly special as we introduced the Brian Clark awards in memory of him as he was a founding member and a delight to the community, so this was very special in remembering him and an honour for the winners. I addition to that very honourable award our volunteers were also awarded for all their hard work as well as community members and the local MP Seema Malhotra for all their hard work and contributions to the community, 2017 was really a great year fro progression and success for Heston West Big Local.
Amazing performance from the Tamil Community Group dancers