Portrait of a volunteer
by Ryna Ghazi
Ryna has been volunteering for 5 years with the Slough based charity Aik Saath (meaning 'together as one' in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu), teaching conflict resolution and anti-racism skills to promote peace and racial harmony in the community.
Ryna volunteers her time with Aik Saath
I volunteer for an independent charity known as Aik Saath, who are dedicated to promoting racial harmony by teaching conflict resolution skills in Slough and surrounding areas. Aik Saath means 'Together As One' in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
Slough is regarded as one of the most multi-cultural and multi-ethnic communities in England. Although such diversity can be advantageous, it is inevitable that differences between communities may cause tension due to lack of understanding of others and this is where Aik Saath try to help.
What do you do?
I am a peer trainer for Aik Saath and I have been volunteering for 5 years. We teach conflict resolution skills to young people through workshops in schools and youth centres. We also meet once a week for two hours to discuss upcoming events, prepare for workshops and learn new skills from the Aik Saath staff that we can then pass on.
The Peer Training Team have won many awards including the Queen's Unsung Heroes Award, the Philip Lawrence Award, the Deutsche Bank Spotlight Award and were runners up in the Conflict Team of the Year category at the PeerLink Awards.
Have you had any standout experiences as a volunteer?
There have been many great experiences, but a particularly standout memory is of teaching year 7 pupils, that at first seemed disinterested but were keen to learn more by the end of the session!
The Aik Saath peer mentoring team
The only downside is feeling you wish you could do more when young people seem to be having personal problems. However, our aim is to teach skills that they can hopefully implement in to all parts of their lives when needed.
How will volunteering help you in the future?
Aik Saath has been the foundation in furthering my interest in this field and has made me realise how much I enjoy working in a community as it doesn’t matter how much time you can give- it all makes a big difference. I’d like to go on to become more involved in charity and youth work.
I believe employers take a keen interest in those that undertake voluntary work as it shows commitment, interest, and passion in projects that you do of your own accord without expecting pay. Voluntary work can also prepare or enhance the skills you need for the working world, for example: confidence, presenting ideas to large (and sometimes challenging) groups, working as part of a diverse team, and thinking of new and interesting ways of communicating ideas to others.
Add Aik Saath to your groups on Facebook.
Aik Saath members on their residential
How do you think your group impacts your local community?
I believe in that every community, local people who feel strongly or have an opinion on something should take an active role in changing it. Aik Saath are coming up for their 10 year anniversary and even the simple fact they have lasted so long has had a great impact on the area. They raise awareness of current issues and offer solutions to tackle them. This charity is not like some other organisations; their approach is to help people- teaching rather than raising money. Looking at the achievements and awards Aik Saath have gained, and the respect shown by the local community, all the work is worthwhile.
Find out more about Aik Saath.
Aik Saath in the spotlight.
last updated: 08/03/2008 at 18:21
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