Aik Saath brings communities together in Slough

Posted on the 5th June 2019

I first started volunteering at Aik Saath just over three years ago. I had some free time and I thought I might try it to see if it was for me. My sister was already volunteering and I came across the charity’s work first-hand when they visited my school, Baylis Court, to deliver a presentation.

Aik Saath means ’together as one’ in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu. The Queen’s award-winning charity was established in the late 1990s in response to gang violence between young people from Asian backgrounds in Slough. The founders believed that young people needed to lead the efforts to resolve this conflict and over twenty years later young people are still leading efforts to build peace and encourage cohesion in our communities.

I attend Aik Saath every week between 5:30pm and 8pm on a Tuesday. During this time we learn the skills to deliver sessions in schools and the local community. During my first team meeting one of Aik Saath’s partners, Dr Mark Prince, delivered a session on preventing knife crime. He lost his son in an incident outside his son’s school. Kiyan Prince was just 14 years old. Dr Prince’s words inspired me to make a difference in my local community and I’ve been volunteering ever since.

Aik Saath session taking place at school

I clearly remember the first time I delivered a workshop for Aik Saath. We were exploring community cohesion with Year 3 at Parlaunt Park Primary School in the Langley area of Slough. The way the students responded to our workshops had a profound impact on me and I felt empowered to continue giving my time and using my voice to make a difference.

Over the last three years I have volunteered in the most diverse range of ways. I have trained young people in primary schools, secondary schools and the community; I have interviewed older people in the community with a view to making exhibitions on the Partition of British India into India and Pakistan, and East African culture (Project Urithi) and I have a cooked dinner for homeless people at Christmas. We also deliver training in schools, run youth clubs and deliver arts and heritage projects.

I enjoy representing Aik Saath at carnivals and other community events where we outreach, to encourage more young people to volunteer and provide music using a cycle-powered sound system! Most recently, I represented Aik Saath in Donostia-San Sebastian as part of a project called React (www.reactnohate.eu) empowering young people from across Europe to respond to hate speech online.

Interview with an older person

Volunteering has provided me with such a broad range of skills and nearly all of them are transferable. For example, showing other young people conflict resolution skills has made me a better mediator so when my friends have been in conflict I have used my skills to support them to resolve their differences.

I have also gained a lot of confidence and this is proved really useful when undertaking other initiatives. I took part in the National Citizen Service scheme and the skills I gained volunteering help me stand out to the extent that I was chosen to be team leader for my group. Volunteering in different circumstances gave me the courage and communication skills to lead my team through the NCS process.

I think Volunteers’ Week is an excellent idea. A lot of volunteering in our community goes unnoticed anything that helps to shine a spotlight on people’s efforts to make their local area a better place has to be a good thing! It is an honour to volunteer with Aik Saath. The opportunities and skills I have developed have helped me become the best version of myself and I truly believe that in giving to others and our community, ultimately we help ourselves too.

Sanna Malik

A 16 year old with a passion for social change, eager to make a bigger difference!

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