Alison runs a weekly drama workshop with survivors of torture at the Medical Foundation in Manchester.
This mixed group of mostly African asylum seekers and refugees have been coming regularly to the workshops since 2006, meeting and socialising for a few hours to forget the difficulties they face outside. Some participants have moved on, started families and taken up jobs as a result of their time at the Medical Foundation and all identify a special role in their recovery played by the drama activities.
The drama activities have led to growing self-esteem among group members and helped them through very difficult experiences. Individuals have claimed that the group has made a really significant impact on their lives. Over the years the group has grown in confidence and are now performing in more public settings which means that they are getting a positive message out to audiences about the situation for refugees in this country.
Alison also volunteered on the Time Together scheme run by Refugee Action in Manchester. Alison mentored a young Congolese man to help him with creating his CV and with job applications and interviews. She has also volunteered on a community radio scheme run by RadioRegen, mentoring a group of asylum seekers who were on the scheme.
Ben's biggest achievement has been carried out through his role as Team Leader of SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) Manchester. This organisation creates innovative projects, which sustainably empower individuals and organisations within local and international communities.
Ben's leadership and commitment of over 400 volunteering hours has led to huge growth in the team. By applying what he has learned in the classroom, Ben has created the framework in which SIFE has been able to sustainably grow and his ability as a leader has allowed other students to grow as leaders themselves and have ownership of the projects. As a result SIFE Manchester enjoyed growth in terms of both members from 10 to over 100, and of community-based projects from 3 to almost 10.
This year, the projects of his team directly educated over 300 members of the community, from the environmental and economic benefits of saving energy at home and the value of recycling and reusing garments in Withington, entrepreneurial education for primary school children in Moss Side, financial literacy for a secondary school in East Manchester, confidence building for homeless individuals in the city centre, and business ethics for restaurant owners in Rusholme to a streamlined administration system for a refugee government in Algeria. The projects all delivered sustainable change, were innovative in nature and have had a real impact on each participant. Ben played a major role in supporting students to set up and run these projects.
Ben also spent a year doing full-time charity work in Cape Town, South Africa, working with a variety of organisations. He has also taken part in the Sport Volunteer Scheme.