A recent recruit to our TDC Equalities team, Maha Mustafa, is working with us on the Social Prescribing Plus Project. Her journey with TDC started when she had support from a Community Development Worker to run groups in the BME community to bring people together. She then joined us as a volunteer and has now progressed to working within the team.
The picture below shows Maha speaking at the Community Works Equality Symposium, held in February 2018, about the challenges in raising a family between two cultures, the racism she has experienced since she moved to Brighton, and how she motivated herself to learn English and study at the Open University. Plus some of the food packages she prepared for NHS workers when the Covid-19 lockdown first began.
As a colleague of ours said “Maha has community spirit running through her” and as this week is Volunteers’ Week, Maha spoke to Community Works about her experiences.
Here is some more of what she said:
What is your role at TDC?
Social Prescribing Plus Link Worker and Case Worker
What motivated you to become a volunteer at TDC? And how long have you been involved?
I saw that volunteering would give me the ability to understand and connect with others, especially since I have had similar challenges as other BME people living in the UK so I found interest in improving their journeys. Being from different countries, cultures and speaking different languages makes it very hard for women to navigate their way around the system and get support that they may have received from families and friends in their home countries. After navigating the system myself, I feel I am now at an advantage to make other people’s journey easier than mine was. I was volunteering at TDC for six months.
Can you talk me through a typical ‘session’ / give me a bit more information about what you do? Do you have a particular story or anecdote you would like to share about your volunteering experience?
I was volunteering at Trust for the Developing Community for several months; this gave me motivation to continue volunteering and finding out about the help that’s available to ethnic minorities. From my experience as a mother myself, I found it hard to navigate the system and raise my children between two cultures. I know how important it is to keep our identity and how important for our children to embrace it. It is also important to be aware of what the consequences could be on them, the family and the wider community when they begin to lose this connection to their culture.
What is your favourite aspect of the role?
Being able to give people constructive support, advice, guidance and structure. It is a rewarding role that allows me to support others in finding their way and navigating the system.
What benefits do you gain from volunteering?
I would say volunteering allowed me to learn new skills, build my self-esteem and confidence, meet new people from different background with different skills, gain experience and build my confidence to apply for a job.
What would you say to someone who was considering volunteering or helping in their local community?
It brings the community together; it has long standing benefits and you will receive more than you give, it’s an amazing learning experience where everyone benefits.