Work experience at St Hilda’s

I spent two weeks at St Hilda’s East Community Centre, London, where I met so many great people and truly enjoyed my work experience. I talked to and played games with members of the older people’s project and helped set up activities for the group.

The first day was quite daunting but the family-like unit quickly made me feel at ease. I looked forward to going to St Hilda’s each day and would excitedly wait for the group to arrive. It was rewarding to see that the older people were also excited to see me and my twin brother, who was also volunteering. The co-ordinator of the older people’s project, Vicky, was very helpful and kind, and I admired how she had an honest and personal relationship with each member of the group, as did Naz, another of the directors.

This work experience provided a tremendous and apt learning experience for me. Talking to the members about their lives was not only interesting, but also helped improve my interpersonal skills. I was given opportunities to lead activities, such as quizzes on the history of Petticoat Lane and Jamaican independence. This was a great experience as it pushed me out of my comfort zone, improved my organisational skills and helped my confidence.

The games we played, such as Boccia and solving riddles, were not only fun but also a great way to learn about the different personalities of the members and form relationships with them. For example, I quickly learnt that Ernie, one of the members of the older people's project, is one of the funniest people I have ever met and his extensive general knowledge left me in awe.

The relationships I formed with the older people gave me a great insight to their lives and experiences. Their stories really put things into perspective, and I felt that I started to understand what is important in life after hearing about their struggles. I respect and admire their resilience and perseverance. These qualities are ones I wish to possess and apply to all aspects of my life.

Owing to St Hilda’s being based in such a diverse community, I learnt a lot about global history and different cultures from the stories the members told me. I enjoyed this because I love learning about new cultures and have a great passion for global and international history. For example, when I was with Ann, who was Jamaican and her parents Antiguan, I enjoyed listening to her speak passionately about the history of Antigua and its journey to independence. I found this so interesting because I got an insight into the history of a country that I had never previously learnt about and also got a first-hand account of the events and effects on the citizens.

Overall, my experience at St Hilda’s was invaluable. At the end of my two weeks I truly felt that I was part of the St Hilda’s family and I will really cherish the memories and relationships I made there. I learnt a lot about the importance of flexibility, patience and teamwork. I admire and respect how, in spite of the cuts imposed by the government, the centre is determined to do the best it can for the community and will always go the extra mile. St Hilda’s sense of community is something that I believe all centres and organisations should aspire to replicate.

Kehinde Whyte-Ilori, SFC1