Stratford Park never felt more beautiful and busy than Sunday 30th April 2021.
For the first time in the history of the Shpresa Programme, our Volunteers were recruited, trained, helped together and did not meet in person. They were our digital volunteers for the Albanian-speaking community on different roles, with different labels such as: Parenting champions, Mental health champions and Immigration Champions
Volunteering Week would not be any more emotional than on this day. Our Shpresa Programme staff had made the preparations for the volunteer picnic under a large tree in the park, the colourful balloons were all blown up, and they made sure everything was set up in accordance with COVID-19 regulations.
The Immigration champions opened the event. We were in tears while they spoke, about the benefits of volunteering, how much they have learned, but above all how much they have grown while volunteering.
Anisa (not her real name) said: “I don’t know if there are enough words in the dictionary to explain the effect that the organisation has had on me, and to be able to just be part of it and help is the greatest gift I have had.
I have changed (for the better) thanks to Flutra , Luljeta and the team of Shpresa Programme. I have changed through all the organisations that they have brought together like MiCLU, Garden Court, Croydon Drop-in, Kazzum and many more. I know now what it take to help with love in your heart and see beyond the pain i have gone through
The dominant messages of the day were:
- To seek help
- To get involved
- To make time
- To get information
We gave encouraging messages for those who are from European countries, encouraged and informed them to settle in the UK.
We played volleyball and had food provided for them from the staff. They enjoyed receiving their certificates, boxes of chocolates and flowers.
Following the Immigration champions, the Parenting Champions and Mental Health Champions joined us too, with their children in their arms and smiles on their faces. They had come from all over London, and even from outside London. They had gifts for each other. It was beautiful to witness the magic that the digital way of working had brought in people’s lives. They all had come to Shpresa to seek help on parenting, immigration, health, information, mental health and support. Shpresa Programme encouraged them to be part of the accredited training for Parenting and/or Mental Health, and join our volunteering team with their new skills.
There were tears of happiness, there were beautiful smiles, and laughter. While they were so grateful for the support they had received they were humbled while receiving their Thank you Certificates. Adelina Toplica-Badivuku and Alketa Hystuma, who joined Shpresa as team members, had not met as well – therefore we witnessed the first loving hug of two digital friends.
Sarah, one of the volunteers said:
“Being part of Shpresa saved my life, helped me take care of my Mental Health, helped me to learn about Parenting and gave me beautiful moments. You believed in me when I had lost the faith in God and in myself. You became the best medication for my soul.”
And while the volunteers were receiving they certificates and thank you cards, children were looking full of admiration, while their mothers were applauded and appreciated.
There were sport games, home-cooked food by all volunteers, drinks and happy meals for the children, games and balloons and over 100 Happy Volunteers on the roles of the Immigration , Mental health, Parenting Champions and over 20 children watching their parents with admiration.
Our Shpresa Programme family wishes you a