Our staff and volunteers at the SLRA work on such a personal level, they often end up bringing more to the role than even they expected. Tamara is one of the Volunteers who has jumped right in and let her natural enthusiasm and zest penetrate every task that she tackles with us. Whether it is acting as a chaperone, accompanying clients to various legal appointments, or curating festivals, she ensures our clients get the very best service they deserve.
Utilising a background in Drama Facilitation, Tamara helps to create the annual Migrant Connections Festival - which was planned to be hosted by SLRA this year but had to be postponed because of the lockdown. She co-curates the festival's kids section as well as the evening portion of the free festival that is for anyone going through the immigration process. Tamara tells me that the festival is “a platform for migrants, fostering links between communities through music, activities and free legal advice”. This amalgamation of creativity and necessity really helps our clients to build an organic, enjoyable sense of community, belonging and stability.
The Covid-19 government lockdown has affected many people in many ways; Tamara confesses that her whole life is “based around groups of people” which is now thrown off-kilter. She has combatted this sudden shift in socialisation by taking her skills and love for group activities online. Kids parties are held on Zoom every Saturday, with regular families attending, the group often reaches over twelve households joined together online to enjoy the different activities Tamara brings to the group weekly. With so many children enjoying these parties, we are still trying to over come the obstacle of clients access to the internet, so we can reach the children who haven’t yet been able to join in. At the core of all the energy and games, lies Tamara key point - “It’s important that people feel connected”.
The strides to maintain connection at present are vast. A women’s group with around 40 members, has been taken online to continue their connection. Tamara, with the help of local business Sharkey&George, Streatham Wells mutual aid group, and fellow volunteer Andy; have sourced and organised an eclectic array of craft donations which they have organised into bags to send out via volunteer delivery, to each group member.
These craft bags contain specific the tools and materials to create a whole host of various decorations, kids toys and even seeds and a pot to grow their own watercress plant.
For many members of the women’s group at this time, life is lived in close quarters with not much to enjoy after the bare essentials. Projects like this craft bag and the dedicated online group sessions to involve everyone in the making of the various crafts, adds an extra form of enjoyment and fulfilment to the lives of everyone involved, attested to by both staff and clients alike!
For the clients who may miss a group session, Tamara and Andy filmed tutorial videos so they can enjoy the crafts independently and don’t miss out.
These are photographs that some of the kids group's members have sent in:
Tamara, as a performer at heart, has plans continue to “bring friendliness, warmth and happiness” to our clients after lockdown, through new group sessions, like Clowning classes for kids. With her biggest struggle being the logistical side of organisation, Tamara is learning new ways to navigate group activities and cultivating positive micro-communities within the SLRA hub.
Tamara proudly tells me of the remarkable generosity she has encountered, and how wonderful it is to “make peoples lives happier”. She has seen how the work at the SLRA “truly places emphasis on community spirit. Providing a really good combination of feeding the body and the soul. I don’t think that there are many organisations that do that”
This text is part of a new series of regular updates and stories we want to share about the amazing people behind our work at SLRA. Thanks to Radhika for text and photographs. We're looking forward to sharing more stories soon.