May 17 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
MEMBERS of Team V Harrow have taken part in three successful projects to combat loneliness among the elderly, tackle food poverty and increase literacy rates in the borough.
Patrick Mahaffey was team leader for the local project, which is part of the nationwide V Inspired campaign, and said the volunteering experience was hugely rewarding for him and the people who benefitted.
The 24-year-old, who worked around the clock to make sure the initiatives ran smoothly, said: “It is really rewarding. I think that each of the campaigns has had its individual merits and I couldn’t say that any one of them has been better than the others.
“The one we did for loneliness I got to meet some really interesting people.”
The food poverty campaign ran over Christmas and helped families who would otherwise have not had enough to eat. More than 800 food items were collected by 300 volunteers which went towards helping more than 300 people in the area who would have gone hungry.
Patrick said: “The food one was quite surprising as the number of people in the country who live in food poverty is unbelievable. That was really rewarding as we made sure that people would be eating enough at Christmas.
“I felt that we could shape the future with this as the seven and eight-year-olds we helped will be old enough to see what impact giving to charity had and hopefully will do the same in 20 years time.”
Another volunteer, Mohamad Zain Lakdawala, 24, of Church Road, Stanmore said he found out about it online as Team V has a strong presence on social media sites.
He said: “I was surprised by the food collection one as so many people gave donations and I didn’t realise how many people were affected by this. Being in London it’s unbelievable that even though it is one of the biggest cities in the world, so many people go without food, it was surprising to learn that.
“We put all our best efforts in so I hope this did make a difference.”
The student, who is studying for an MBA at Williams College in Holborn, added: “I really enjoyed it and I thought it was good to do some good work for a change. It’s better to spend your free time doing something to help others.”
V Inspired has a strong presence on social media sites and is designed to get as many young people as possible involved with volunteering and making a difference in their local communities, while adding valuable skills to their CVs.
Young people aged 16 to 24 years old can take part and there are about 50 teams across the county.
The team visited the Mayor of Harrow’s parlour on Saturday in recognition of the good work they have been doing and to mark the end of their writing competition, which was open to children aged seven to 11.
Kriya Kalidas is youth network coordinator for Team V and worked closely with Patrick during the initial stages of each project. She said: “I have been so impressed with the work that they have done and Patrick has done an absolutely amazing job. Considering he has had no management experience before he has really made the most of it and coordinated the projects really well.”
Patrick, who is not in paid work at the moment but is undertaking an internship at the office of Brent Central MP, Sarah Teather, estimates he devotes about 10 or 15 hours a week to the scheme.
Patrick said: “I think many of the volunteers wanted to make a social impact on their local community and it has been a great opportunity to pick up some tremendous skills I would never have had done by having two or three jobs such as marketing, designing, management, speaking to the community.
“I really wanted to do this to make a positive social impact on my local community.”