Westminster Befriend a Family

Helping others can help you too

WBAF

Helping others can help you too

About Roopa

Originally from India, 23-year-old Roopa completed a Master’s Degree in Development Studies at the London School of Economics before becoming our volunteer event organiser and fundraising intern.

Why volunteer with Westminster Befriend a Family?

“I want to pursue a career in development studies hopefully working for a not-for-profit organisation or an NGO or any organisation that works directly with development issues,” she said. “I also wanted to get some experience of how the charitable sector works here. As WBAF works with vulnerable families and young people who are socially disadvantaged and living in poverty, this charity fits very well with the kind of career I am interested in.”

What do you do here as a volunteer?

“I work in the charity’s office researching potential sponsors and donors who will help the charity continue its work. It involves lots of online research finding out information on local businesses and the contact details of the people best placed to help us. So far I have made contact with about 200 businesses, hotels, restaurants, pubs and spas etc., and I’m hoping we can build up more relationships so they can help us in any way they can, whether it’s through direct donations or by providing raffle and auction prizes.

What have you learned from your experience?

“Volunteering has been really useful for expanding and improving my research, communication and organisational skills. I’ve been meeting and talking to all kinds of different people, explaining what we do and trying to gain their support. I’ve been able to gain a lot of invaluable experience. When I go back to India, working for organisations that don’t have much in the way of resources, these skills will be of great value.”

Roopa also believes the experience has helped her grow up. “Being here, in London, without my parents or any family around, I’ve had to take care of myself.  I didn’t have any idea of how to navigate this place or about volunteering before, but now I do. It’s been like starting life from scratch at age 22. It’s made me grow up, be stronger and be much more independent,” she said.

If you would like to volunteer, make a difference and help yourself, click http://www.befriendafamily.co.uk/volunteer-8/ to find out more.

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View from Mount Snowdon

Top of the World

Today, Noreen Sumra, intrepid chair of Westminster Befriend a Family, went above (literally!) and beyond the call of duty. She spent her Wednesday in Snowdonia hiking up the highest mountain in Wales, Mount Snowdon. After a gruelling training programme, Noreen’s efforts paid off as she made it up to the summit much quicker than her target time.

 

Noreen Sumra Ascending Mount Snowdon

Noreen Sumra Ascending Mount Snowdon

“I am seriously not fit”

For someone who claimed to be seriously not fit and found her training climbs ‘a hard slog’, Noreen made the climb look like a breeze. She had aimed to get to the top, weather permitting, in three hours. Enjoying the views as she went, she smashed her target, reaching the summit in a mere two hours and fifteen minutes!

 

Noreen Sumra almost at the top of Mount Snowdon

Noreen almost at the top of Mount Snowdon

Some facts about Mount Snowdon for you

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales at 1085 metres above sea level. As you can see from the pictures, there’s a good reason why it’s the third most visited attraction in Wales. The mountain itself is volcanic in its origins, produced in the Ordovician Period. It has been shaped over the centuries by glaciation, forming into a pyramidal peak. There’s a railway that’ll take you to the top. Note to our chair – it’s easier by train!

 

Noreen Sumra at the summit of Mount Snowdon

Made it!: Noreen at the summit of Mount Snowdon

In her own words

She had this to say:

I am absolutely amazed, and not a little bit hyped, about successfully completing my ascent in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I had set myself a target of doing it in 3 hours because I am seriously not fit and based on times achieved by friends.

It was an almost spiritual few hours. So many climbers had told me that “the mountain needs to be respected” almost as if it’s a living thing. You see what they mean when you get to the summit.

I would recommend the climb to everyone for the peace and solitude you feel on the way up (despite the panting) and the sense of achievement on the way down.

Thank you to all my supporters and donors. You did a good thing and I feel great not to have let you down.

 

The view from Mount Snowdon

Wow. Just look at that view

You can catch up with Noreen’s other posts on her Snowdon Climb page.

If you’ve been inspired by Noreen’s story and would like to support Westminster Befriend a Family, we’d LOVE to hear about your fundraising ideas. If you’re not up for mountain climbing, you can make a donation to our amazing charity by hitting the DONATE button.

Noreen shines through on a rainy day

Noreen Sumra training in the rain

Even the torrential rain won’t stop her!

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On what should ideally have been a duvet day (and which usually is) I took the opportunity to walk in torrential rain in Windsor great park to test my wet weather gear; I am reliably advised that there is a huge possibility of my climb being weather challenged, so I guess it was a timely downpour.  As you may be able to make out, my supposedly waterproof sweatshirt is anything but!  Another shopping trip, I think. 7.4 miles in just under 2 hours… I’m happy!! Thanks for reading my stories and for your donations.

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Local schools spread Christmas cheer and raise £1,139 for WBAF

collectors

Volunteer collector Hardip, and WBAF’s Fundraiser Chris

This year, Westminster schools once again donated their time to share some festive spirit and raise some funds for Westminster Befriend A Family by holding carol performances in some great locations in Westminster. Our four schools – including St Mary Magdalene Primary, Westminster Cathedral School, Burdett-Coutts School and King Solomon Academy – did an incredible job, raising a total of £1,139.89 for WBAF!

 

Our first event was in Green Park station on a beautiful sunny day. The children of St Mary Magdalene School, led by choir master Stuart, did an amazing job of engaging the busy lunchtime passers-by.

 

Land Securities generously allowed us to use Cardinal Place to collect with Westminster Cathedral School on the 10th, as well as Burdett-Coutts School on the 15th, and provided drinks and nibbles for the children. Westminster Cathedral School sang a lovely combination of hymns and carols, and Burdett-Coutts performed a great version of ‘The 12 days of Christmas’, including their own pictures to illustrate each day.

 

Our last event, in Paddington Station, was led by 20 children from King Solomon Academy. The children sang classic carols and modern Christmas songs, and got plenty of applause from the crowd!

 

Maggie and Hardip, both from Sir Robert McAlpine, also kindly volunteered their time as collectors in Cardinal Place, and did an amazing job of raising donations!

 

A very deep thank you to all of our schools, venues and volunteers who collaborated to raise money for us this Christmas. It will be a long time before we get Rudolph ‘The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ out of our heads.