Alvina Ali, Secret Angels
Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?
Secret Angels is a small non-profit organisation established on the 2nd April 2021 in Wolverhampton to empower communities and transform lives by helping residents in deprived areas to tackle fuel and food poverty.
Set up with one aim in mind – to make a lasting difference in the lives of the needy so that one day they may help others. We work in some of the most deprived communities in Wolverhampton and with some of the most socially excluded and hard to reach people. We are with them every step of the way to transform their lives, and their communities, for the better. As volunteers, we’ve come together to help drive this dream forward and eventually become a charity. At present we are working retrospectively.
Our current ongoing projects are;
- Walk for Health
- Emergency Food Packs
- Digital Inclusion
- Clothes Bank
- Befriending Service
- Youth Activities
- Workshops (IT, Health and Wellbeing, Cooking, etc.)
What has been your greatest achievement?
As a small charity, we are vital and have made a HUGE impact within a short space of time. We work with individuals and organisations to sustain and support communities to thrive and have achieved the following by forming partnerships;
- Secret Angels Food Bank – launched April 2022
- Helping the Homeless December 2021 – Winter Care Kits & Food Parcels
- Macmillan Coffee Morning October 2021 – raised £3575
- Small Charity Week June 2021 – made an impact by showcasing our work and amazing volunteers over Social Media. Secret Angels was chosen as one of the 10 Small Charities to receive a £50 donation from the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) supported by Social Value UK and sponsored by Policy Bee Insurance.
What is your experience of support received from WVSC?
WVSC was my one stop shop, giving information to assist me on my path to pursuing my ambition – Secret Angels. I was really struggling trying to understand the registration process of a charity and I didn’t really know anyone or what else to do, then luckily I was introduced to Sharon and I haven’t looked back ever since.
My experience with WVSC is a very positive one, and it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done and I am so glad that I was given the opportunity because I would not be here if it wasn’t for Sharon’s guidance and recommendations. This experience overall has helped me so much more than just to get recognition, it gave me the confidence and belief that if I want it enough and work hard enough, that I can get to be where I want to be, giving back to the community.
WVSC has a dedicated team and with Sharon’s help and support Secret Angels started to grow and develop when we carried out the Covid Community Champions project during the pandemic and were provided with PPE. Furthermore, we registered for the online events, discussion groups, newsletters, emails and updates which we find very useful.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?
Born and bred in a deprived area in Wolverhampton, I love my City (Wolves Ay We!). Our city is diverse and cohesive. Who would have thought there are around 90 languages spoken within the city?
Growing up over the years I have seen more people and new communities come to live in Wolverhampton. We hope to support these communities to thrive and improve our understanding of the needs of our diverse and culturally rich city. For some people in Wolverhampton, life is far more of a struggle to survive in an age of austerity. Many families are on a low income or struggling with welfare cuts and recently the energy crisis, with food and fuel prices on the rise.
Asking for help often makes people feel uneasy because it requires surrendering control to someone else. Another fear is being perceived as needy. Some people are also afraid that they’ll be shunned or rejected if they ask for help. This is where our team of volunteers / helpers come in to open up the lines of communication, and build friendships so that asking for help later on when they really need it, isn’t such a big deal.
This has created a safer space for people to ask for help. It creates a sense of belonging; helping others can help us to make new friends and connect with our community. Face-to-face activities with our volunteers at the food bank has helped reduce loneliness and isolation for many. We have also found that people are more likely to perform feats of generosity after observing another do the same. This effect can ripple throughout the community, inspiring dozens of individuals to make a difference!
What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVSC help to support your organisation in the future?
For Secret Angels to make progress against any deep-rooted challenges, we must work together to maximise resources and ensure that people are provided with opportunities to reach their potential and support their community. We can only do this by working together with residents and partner organisations to understand their priorities and embed those outcomes in all that we do. The main challenge we face as a new organisation is getting our structure and model right to start securing funding, where assistance with writing bids will be most welcome together with ongoing support.
Where can we find out more?
Check out our social media pages to see what impact we have made to date!
Would you like to be featured in our Voluntary Sector Focus? Contact Sharon Nanan-Sen on firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!