In the last 8 months, Heston West Big Local have been working alongside ZeroPlus Theatre to deliver engaging theatre in education sessions to inspire young people to develop their confidence, skills and abilities. Our Big Local youngsters wanted to do a modern take on Shakespeare's tragedy 'Romeo & Juliet', so instead of the families coming from Verona, Italy they will be based in our very own Heston West!
The play directed by Youth Action members Juhi Kumra and Huzayma Khamis, will take place on Sunday 15th July 2018 from 12.30-1.30pm on the Redwood Estate followed by lunch. Check out our behind the scenes footage of the young crew preparing for the performance. Enjoy
By Taz Virdee
It's Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20th May) and this year is the focus is stress. Last year we worked on Self-Esteem with members from our Youth Action Team and Film Club, our first film was called 'It's OK not to be OK' (above) which was written by Juhi Kumra and Abbie McFerran. The film raises awareness of body image and the effects it has on young people.
For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week please click here (external link).
By Taz Virdee
Sunshine's Sharnjeet Bhalla, Heston West's Yasmin Lukka & Maria Pedro, Her Majesty's Deputy Lieutenant for London Borough of Hounslow at our Big Local Big Lunch Commonwealth Event.
On Saturday 21st April 2018 we held our Big Local Big Lunch Commonwealth Community Event organised by our Big Local Youth Action Team and Heston West Committee. The glorious weather inspired the community to come out and get involved with the host of fun activities on offer. We had Flower Arranging, Food Art, Jewellery Making, Multi-Sports, Creative Club, Face Painting, Indian Classical Dancing, Army Cadets, Police Car and Fire Engine Show. Around 350 local residents attended the function and we also raised around £450 for our Natural Disasters Campaign and the Family Forever JP Campaign. We were joined by special guests Maria Pedro, Her Majesty’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant and Deputy Mayor for Hounslow Borough Mukesh Malhotra.
Jon White, Family Learning Coordinator for Hounslow Council said: "It was an excellent event! I loved the way your (Heston West) volunteers (Callum and Wole in particular) helped out and kept the event on track and relaxed. The variety of activities on offer was really impressive too. We were delighted by the way our sessions went down."
Caroline Baxter, Heston West Police Constable added: "We enjoyed the down time chatting and playing football with the young people. The event did appear to be a success and I should think there were many happy residents from the local communities."
Anita Sangha, Community Connector from disability organisation Certitude was really impressed with our event, she said: “It was an absolute amazing day, so well organized, great turnover, lovely food and yes great weather as well. The kids did a lot of drawing and colouring at our stall and I got to hand out some leaflets to families regarding our Thursday's Community Drop-In Arts Session with the Big Local.”
Photos Credit: Big Local Youth Action Team Member Haroon Lukka
By Layba Nisar
In the coming months, we will be asking members from our dedicated Heston West Big Local team why they volunteer for us and what they get from volunteering! Today, we begin with Layba Nisar, 14 yrs old. She is one of our most enthusiastic, energetic and engaging young person involved. Through her hard work, community spirit and innovative thinking, she has made a fantastic impact in our local community and is an inspiring role model for young people.
Read her story below.
Why I volunteer?
I volunteer because I like going out and doing different things on different days as I meet new people and am able to try things, that are things I would have never imagined to do. I also volunteer because at home I would spend my time on computers which is very bad for my epilepsy, so me going out and helping my community, takes me away from these kinds of things which makes me happy that there is something I can do that won’t affect my health and will help others.
What have been my experiences?
I have been volunteering with Heston West for 1 year and a half, and have helped out in many activities and enjoyed my time getting involved. There were community events at the Brabazon Centre, Berkeley Academy, the YMCA Tumbler in Hayes, Cranford Community College and Parliament. At the centre was probably the first time I helped out in an event, I painted the centre and performed a dance. At Berkeley Academy there were summer fete that I helped in and the Winter Wonderland themed event. At the YMCA Tumbler we went to see young refugees and gave them donated Christmas gifts and played games with the children. I even did a dance performance for them and of course, played pool amazingly (just kidding I barely knew how to play)!
At Cranford, there was many events like: the BBQ for local Traveller’s (I made cotton candy for everyone), the Big Local’s Youth Action Team’s Natural Disaster Awareness charity event (I was in charge of the raffles) and the Volunteer Awards Evening (I hosted the beginning). There are many more however these were by far my favourite. I also attended many workshops for the Big Local and did fun things like clean-up day when we, as a team went around the community cleaning up and knocked on people’s doors and gave them free roses. I also attend the Big Local MADE Film club every Sunday and Drama with Zero Culture. At the Film Club, I have many adverts advertising our events on YouTube. I also run debating sessions every Tuesday afternoons for young people, I teach participants new techniques and skills required to debates effectively. I have been to Parliament with my Big Local team and we presented in front of MPs. Personally, I thought this would be the last session, however Seema Malhotra (MP Feltham and Heston) told me not to stop as it is very important for the community to have these kinds of things. My experiences in volunteer work have been so fun for me and I seriously can’t wait to carry on with it.
What do I get out of volunteering?
What I get out of volunteering with Taz and the Big Local is everyday going home with a smile on my face waiting to go and do things with the team and it’s so fun to do. If you would personally know me you would know I’m a very lazy person and for me to like this is something I thought would never happen. Taz is a very kind person who is so approachable and easy to talk to, is probably the main reason why I volunteer because, I did a lot of activities outside of school and all of them weren’t fun for me as either teachers weren’t approachable or people but Heston West opened a new path in my life and when they say ‘bringing it all together’ they mean it.
Layba with the Big Local volunteer team at our Community Clean Up Day in February 2018.
By MADE in HESTON WEST
May all your wishes get fulfilled in 2018. Happy New Year! Enjoy our short film '5 Things NOT to do on New Year's day' created by our MADE in HESTON WEST youth film-making club.
We look forward to seeing you all in 2018.
By MADE in HESTON WEST
Young people from NCS The Challenge discuss self-esteem with the Big Local Youth Action Team during the summer 2017.
If you would like to more support about the issues raised in this video please visit Childline.
NCS The Challenge joined the Big Local for to support and participate in our MADE in HESTON WEST youth film-making session. For more information please click here.
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
Today on the 23rd September 8 members of Heston West Big Local went to the Local Trust Young People Make A Difference event where many organisations juts like ours gathered together for a day of bonding, having fun and learning about other volunteers like us. After an hour journey in a cab we finally arrived at Lambourne End Centre for Outdoor Learning and it was nothing like I expected the event would be. We were given a warm welcome and settled in before being put into groups and set off for some team building activities, which were really fun. The first activity for my group was we had a big ditch in which we had to get across without touching the bottom of the ditch and we only had 2 planks of wood. After a little conversation we went straight into it and managed to do it pretty well with only a couple of little screams! Just like this activity we managed to get through all of them pretty quick and had lots of laughs along the way and from observing the other groups they were having a great time as well working together and enjoying themselves. After a fun morning of activities we returned back to base and our lovely instructors read out the rules each team had made and we had a giant list including “don’t steal the pens” and “no mobile phones during activities”
Our own group then gave an inspiring speech about what we have done and how much of journey it has been for them, which was really amazing; we also filmed the whole thing. We then were moved into another room where another Big Local group from Hackney shared with us what they’ve done which was also inspiring and amazing to see what they’ve done to their community and it even gave us ideas for what we can do to make our area better. When all the inspiring talk was done we all enjoyed a great BBQ that was made for us along with pasta and salad and this really gave us a chance to talk to each other and just learn a bit more about one another. This was really important to spreading the message that young people’s voices need to be heard and even Big Local representative Sian Penner agrees as she said, “It was a brilliant day and I think more people should give time to listen to more young people”
Anjali Kumar, Simran Bangar, Abbie McFerran, Juhi Kumra, Megha Dahdrai and Serena Lola from Heston West Big Local Youth Action Team presented at the event.
We then proceeded to take part in one of two workshops I chose to go to the Social enterprise workshop in which I learnt a lot about what social enterprising is and what the group had actually done in their area, we eve heard some of their journeys and stories about volunteering and how they’ve created an enterprise called FREEDOM-E which was astonishing to see how much they’ve accomplished especially with primary school kids.
Then it was back to more fun activities, which ranged from things like archery and fencing to caving! We all picked our activity and headed off for some more fun. Id picked archery, which was really good and it was full of laughs and jokes and a bit of failing! We even had competition within the groups and other challenges one, which included balloons that was slightly deceiving. Also from what I saw and heard the other groups had a great time as well in their activities. Even the instructors thought today was a good day as Andrew (one of the activity instructors) said “It was a fun enjoyable time had by all”
Once that had all finished we headed back to the main hall to get to know each other’s organisations a bit more with a fun activity of choosing random postcards which represent us as a group which I found pretty interesting as at first glance all of them seemed irrelevant to us but by looking closer there were many interpretations to be found such as a all the colours representing us as a unity of all different types of people. I thought this was a really good exercise for really trying to understand what it is that we do as volunteers.
Today was an exciting day out for some of our big local volunteers and many other Big Local organisations from around the country. It was informative, inspirational and fun day and also something we would love to do again to do again; it was a huge success!
Serena Lola, 15 years old
Heston West Big Local Volunteer
Big thanks to Local Trust, Vicky Tedder, Wendy Sugarman, Sian Penner and staff at the Lambourne Outdoor Centre for Learning in Romford for organising a brilliant day out for our young people.
Photo credit: Vicky Tedder.
By Serena Lola
This is a short film was created by our MADE in HESTON WEST young film crew. The film was written by Abbie McFerran and Juhi Kumra and filmed at Cranford Community College on Sunday 26th March 2017. The short film highlights self-esteem and body image issues young people face.
The 'It's OK not to be OK' campaign is led by our Youth Action Team.
It’s OK not to be OK. As a society we have created these outrageous ideals of how a person should look and dress instead of looking at what matters and what makes them who they are. And, no matter what society says those ideals don’t matter because despite what we have been brought up to believe we are all beautiful and unique and that includes you, me and everyone around us. So if you ever feel you are not good enough remember that you are and talk to someone because at one point in our life we have all felt like there is something wrong with us when in reality there isn’t. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings because there is many just like you and if you’re not OK then the world is not OK.
It’s all right to feel nervous or scared when going to talk to someone but trust me it could make all the difference and there are many people out there who would be willing to listen to you whether that be friends, family or teachers there is always someone you can turn to for help even if you feel like you’re alone.
It doesn’t matter how small or big the problem is because there will always be someone to help and a problem is still a problem despite the size of it so all I can say to you is be happy with who you are because you are perfect and beautiful in every way and if you ever doubt that remember there is always someone you can turn to and there people out there who feel the same way you do because despite what we may look like on the outside we could be the complete opposite on the inside.
Also if you ever feel that a friend or relative or anyone doesn’t seem themselves or something doesn’t feel right you could be the one to say: “Hey are you OK?” because that lets them know they are not alone and it could change everything for them because you never know what might be going on in someone’s head. Be the one who helps them through a dark time to get them to a bright and happy place and remember It’s OK not to be OK.
Big Local Youth Action Blog
Keep updated with all the latest news and projects led by our Big Local Youth Action Team making a real difference to our community.