24 year old Anna Blake left her job in the summer of 2013 to take up a year-long position volunteering for urban youth charity XLP, and she couldn’t be happier with the decision she made. The experience has been a considerable learning curve while she has helped to enrich the lives of numerous young people across East London. She was supported on the placement with a volunteering grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation.
“When I began the placement I was excited but also very nervous. I soon realised now how unaware I was about certain social issues, particularly in London. However it has also made me realise that everyone has incredible potential.”
Anna works as part of a small team in Tower Hamlets to meet the social, educational and behavioural needs of young people across the borough. The nature of the position requires her to be very flexible and no two weeks are ever the same. Her duties include running school lunch clubs, doing night time detachment work in the streets and coordinating workshops including an all-girls project in Shadwell. Anna also mentors a handful of individuals – a part of the role she finds particularly rewarding.
“Many people come to appreciate their upbringing and how fortunate they are by volunteering in impoverished communities around the world. Though working for XLP has opened my eyes to the trials faced by young people in London every day, it has taught me that the right support and encouragement can provide a springboard for young people to flourish from all walks of life.”
Since beginning her work at XLP, Anna has vowed to make a ‘long-term investment’ supporting young people in the capital. Her commitment exemplifies one of the main ideals of the Christian charity who maintain that building relationships and investing in young people for the long term is the best way to help them realise their potential and avoid straying into criminal activity.
XLP founder Patrick Regan said, “We need to understand what has gone wrong in the lives of troubled young people so that we can make a difference. Positive relationships and role-models provide the alternatives that lead to a long-term, sustainable answer to gang (culture).”
To find out more about XLP click here!
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