My Week: Idil Hassan is inspired by her beneficiaries' progress

The community developer at Midaye Somali Development Network recounts her week

Idil Hassan
Idil Hassan

Monday: The day starts with a call around to our personal assistant support services volunteers to make sure they know what activities are planned for the week. I then head off with a volunteer who is a carer for a Somali lady in her seventies. The lady speaks no English, but wants to remain independent, which isn't easy. We sort through her mail and listen to her answering machine messages. Phone calls scare her, so we explain what each call was about.

Tuesday: I am at the knitting and sewing club for the over-50s. I am really pleased to see an elderly lady I've been helping is at the club for the first time. She was very isolated but now she sees that there are other people from backgrounds similar to hers. She tells me she will be back.

Wednesday: It's our meet-your-local-business session today - local businesspeople come into the centre and talk about their experiences. Today we have a cafe owner who couldn't speak English and had only £85 in her pocket when she came to the UK; now she employs 17 people. She used to travel by bus to get her food to her customers. It is a really inspiring story. Many of the women who use our services are excellent cooks have but no formal training, so the session encourages me to help them get the basic food hygiene training they need.

Thursday: In the afternoon, I run the United Children Forum, which brings together children from different ethnicities. This week, the children are debating whether they get enough school holidays. At first, the children are nervous, but then they open up and start speaking. One Turkish-Irish teenager enjoys the forum so much that he asks if he can stay on and work as a volunteer.

Friday: An elderly Somali man has asked me to accompany him and his teenage son to his GP. He does not speak English and wants me on hand. I always tell GPs that I am not an interpreter but an advocate. I think they appreciate my presence.

Midaye Somali Development Network is a charity that supports the Somali community in west London.

Idil Hassan is community developer at Midaye Somali Development Network

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