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Project Hope Reflection: The Journey So Far

Wow!! What a week?! We’re only halfway through #iwillWeek but here in the Project Hope team, we are really feeling the love from everybody! So I just wanted to take this moment as the founder of the project to really reflect from a personal and honest perspective on this journey, because it’s been a rollercoaster that’s for sure! This will likely be a bit of a mini-series starting with the challenges I initially had.

It’s no surprise to anyone that knows me (Naomi), particularly the Project Hope team, that I love a ridiculously ambitious idea. Back in March, sat in my university house, I was processing the imminent lockdown. I just knew we needed to do something to support young people who were going to be feeling increasingly lonely. I had a few ideas but I thought they were totally unachievable.

So it started out with me reaching out on my Twitter with a simple ask for support from young people. I thought one or two young people might respond but I had not anticipated the response it got. I distinctly remember setting up spreadsheets and google forms very quickly just to keep track of interest and keep a record of the kind of roles people wanted to take and frantically ringing my best friend (current Co-coordinator Amelia) in shock at how I was going to lead this project. Then things moved QUICKLY (really quickly) and Project Hope was formed.

I very soon felt totally out of my depth. I found myself leading a team of 20 young people with what felt like, no idea what I was doing. The imposter syndrome made an appearance on yet another occasion in my social action journey. This time it felt like all eyes on me for the direction of this project. I had to manage the challenges of team dynamics, volunteer wellbeing, safeguarding and so much more.

One of the biggest challenges at the start was figuring out my own leadership style. How I wanted to run the project all while contending with the existing relationships I had with each individual team member. Well-being had to be at the centre and my leadership has to be authentic. I wanted to have a team structure to give people clearer roles in the project but at the same time, this meant making uncomfortable decisions about who got what role. I wanted the project to be as inclusive as it possibly could be, giving young people who hadn’t had leadership opportunities the chance to give it a go. Whilst also making use of the incredible existing experience some of the team members had. But this didn’t all go plain sailingly. I was left feeling like I was doing a terrible job at being a coordinator. But I persisted (often through tears!) as I knew this project did have potential. A few people along the way both internally and externally reminded me that I did know what I was doing even if it felt like I didn’t. For that, I am forever grateful.

Meanwhile, ideas were flowing in the team and our delivery of sessions was thriving. We were gaining attention from organisations and from young people themselves and gaining participants in our sessions from all over the world. No pressure there then!

I felt so proud of every single member of the team; For their commitment to the project, the huge amount of time & energy being put into creating engaging content and the sheer number of new ideas being generated.

The project became a community that I never ever imagined and watching the impact on volunteers and participants was incredible. For me, the community we created in the project was crucial to keeping me going throughout lockdown where I was feeling incredibly alone. Even in those moments, where I felt like a total imposter and so ridiculously out of my depth, I had absolute faith in every single member of the team to deliver something fantastic.

My message to any young person reading this is that you can do whatever you set your mind to! Leading a team to deliver your idea is scary, you will probably experience imposter syndrome (adults feel this too!) or feel totally out of your depth but that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of being an awesome leader. This week I’ve been reminded that I have done a good job even if all I did was connect the young people who make it so awesome and empower them to be awesome! It’s weeks like this week where I feel really proud that I persisted…

Importance of Community

Community is important as it provides safety and security in our lives. It provides us with a support network; people we can connect with as we travel through the rollercoaster of life. It gives us the drive to reach our goals and promotes a positive mindset. Whether it’s a family unit, joining a band, or making good friends at university; feeling like you belong somewhere is important for us humans.

Online communities such as Facebook and other social media platforms allow us to reach out to others around us. We can follow causes that matter and organisations that we believe in. It can stop us from feeling like outcasts in society, as well as keeping us attuned with what’s going on around the world.

The community can provide us with a sense of achievement. Volunteering your time is not only rewarding but can also improve your sense of self, by exploring your identity and figuring out your likes and dislikes, whilst meeting people from different walks of life and different backgrounds.

Not only is creating a circle fulfilling, but it also means that you will not have to face your battles alone or in silence. Community unites us and empowers us to be the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be whilst enhancing our joy and happiness. It teaches us the value of working together to achieve goals beyond our own needs.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.

Diana, Project Hope Team Member

Project Hope on thesprout.co.uk

We are thrilled that thesprout.co.uk/blog has written a piece on us. Read an excerpt below, and hit the button at the bottom to read the full article

The COVID-19 global pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on individuals and communities. Naomi Lea, 21 , our founder and project co-ordinator realised this would have a profound impact on young people “In this crisis so many young people are finding that loneliness is a real issue – they haven’t been able to socialise with friends face to face or do the things they enjoy.”

She set up Project Hope along with 15 other young to organise online gatherings for people aged 13-25 three times a week. Project Hope aims to tackle youth loneliness by creating a safe space for individuals to come together, meet new people and have some fun. The project therefore addresses the needs of young people to connect with others during this uncertain time and scary time.

With schools closed, extracurricular activities cancelled, and community services perhaps impacted by the current pandemic, many young people are likely to find themselves…..

Learning Through Lockdown

We are coming up to our 9th week in lockdown and restrictions are starting to slowly ease. There is a lot to think about. How long will it take before things are back to normal? Have we learned new ways of doing things or has lockdown put us in a more vulnerable situation?

I have managed to pull through my university exams, curious about what my next academic year may look like. Young people are digital natives but I very much look forward to seeing how the lockdown may change the way we interact in the future. It’s interesting to see how this experience has brought about our community spirit.

Having a routine has encouraged me to persevere. This can help us to keep focused and take your mind off the perplexity. Going out for a jog isn’t for everyone – it definitely isn’t for me! Using this time to focus on strengthening your “right-brain” can give us the space to visualise our feelings through music and poetry, or you could even consider taking up a paint-by-numbers challenge – a new hobby of mine.

Staying connected on zoom and taking part in quizzes with a society that I am part of a university, has meant that I have still been able to share good memories with the people that I love spending time with.

Reaching out is important; no one is alone and it’s okay to ask for help. Even the strongest people need someone to lean on at times. It has been a strange time for a lot of people and using this time to help others who are in a more difficult position can be rewarding. It’s important that you look after yourself too. Take time out if you need to and ensure that you have a good support network that you can fall back on. We all need to balance putting others first with setting healthy boundaries

  • Diana, Project Hope team member

Need Help? Where to go

At Project Hope we want to create a safe online space for you to feel part of a community but we understand that sometimes, we all need a bit more help. Unfortunately as we are not a support service in that way, here is a list of places and people you can reach out to and the links to their websites:

Samaritans
Call: 116 123
Email: jo@samaritans.org
https://www.samaritans.org/

Shout
Text: 85258
Just send “HELLO” or “START” to begin
https://www.giveusashout.org/