A Visit with Bonny Downs Community Association
On Friday 2nd May, FaithAction’s Virginia and Andrew visited one of the groups who received a grant from the Together in Service programme: the Bonny Downs Community Association in East Ham. Virginia has written a short piece about the trip.
We met with Angela Allgood and Malathy Muthu from the Bonny Downs Community Association on Friday 2nd May 2014. They were awarded a Together in Service grant for their project Digital Champions: helping the unemployed with their job searching online and improving their IT skills.
Angela and Mala were really delighted that we had come to visit their project, with Angela saying that it was unusual for funders to visit and they really appreciated us coming. Since starting the project, they have been able to identify other needs of the people using the project, such as issues with debt and language. They have now set up a debt advice project in collaboration with others in the community and a food bank to help people in crisis, and they are going to set up a Creative English style course with the Tinder Foundation. They have seen that their clients do not always have sufficient language to understand what is required by the Job Centre and this often leads to their benefits being suspended.
Mala and Angela are enthusiastic and dynamic women with lots of ideas of how to meet the needs of people in their community. They told us that, without a Together in Service grant, Digital Champions would not have happened!
The project is staffed by a number of volunteers who work one-to-one with people doing their online job search, helping them search for work and writing down the evidence on the client’s behalf of what they have done as a record for the Job Centre. Every person we spoke with was very positive about the help and support they received from the project, and in particular, the people who work with them in their searches.
We also met a few success stories. Dalwinder, with the help of the project, has now got her first ever paid job as a cook at a local community centre and she was positively glowing! She explained how the project not only helped her with her job search, but also prepared her for the interview with practice sessions too. However, on the day of the interview, she was asked to cook something savory for vegetarians – not what she expected – but she interviewed well and produced an amazing vegetarian shepherd’s pie! We also met with Sharon, who has been using the service at Digital Champions, and had just heard that she had being asked to an interview! She was very happy and said she wouldn’t have got it without the help of the project.