Eighty young volunteers ages 13-15 gathered at JW3 on Sunday 28th January for the launch of Project ImpACT. A ground-breaking social action cross communal programme, which has been rolled out across 10 communities in North London, Project ImpACT supports communities to offers tangible, meaningful and accessible volunteering opportunities for teens, enabling them to make a real difference on a regular basis.
The time that participants give to the various opportunities on offer, set up in conjunction with the Jewish Volunteering Network, can be counted towards the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and other nationally recognised schemes, such as vInspired.
Theo Landau, Director of Youth at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue said: “Project ImpACT has transformed our youth. They really feel they are making a difference, and doing practical things to help different charities. It has shown them that they can have an impact on society through enjoyable activities and gives a structure to their volunteering that will hopefully encourage them to make it a permanent fixture in their routine.”
Project ImpACT launched with a packed out evening’s cook-a-thon. Teenagers from all participating communities and beyond joined together to cook for 100 homeless people at The Manna and CARIS Islington homeless centres. They also heard from a young homeless man about what it is like to be homeless and the challenges he faces. Several further Project ImpACT events are planned at JW3 in the coming months and in several communities across London, with more charities and vulnerable groups set to benefit from their efforts.
Devorah Weisz from the Village Shul said: “There was incredible energy at the launch, everyone working together for the homeless. We met Jante, a young homeless man struggling to get on his feet and it left a deep impression on our youth. We are delighted to be part of this fantastic initiative.”
Alex Fenton Youth Director at Southgate and Cockfosters says. “We started individual Project ImpACT sessions, but when we came together for the big launch event, we realised the power of what we are doing. I don’t know any other programme like this that gets the kids so involved. It has really given the kids an ability to look beyond themselves.”
Chayli Fehler, Director of Education at Norrice Lea synagogue and Founder of Project ImpACT, said: “There was a clear lack of opportunity for young people to easily access practical and impactful volunteering opportunities, particularly those who do not attend Jewish schools. Project ImpACT fills that gap and helps young teens to enhance their skills, gain qualifications, and give back to the community.”
“Chayli’s idea was the perfect fit for us,” added JVN Director Leonie Lewis MBE. “It echoes our core belief that everyone, regardless of their age or ability, can and should have the opportunity to give back to society. We particularly applaud her determination to make opportunities available in both Jewish and non-Jewish communities, exemplifying the concept of Tikkun Olam.”
Project ImpACT will continue over the next few months in various locations and communities. The next central event is scheduled for 18 March. If you are interested in joining Project ImpACT, please get in touch with your local Youth Director, email info@projectimpact.org.uk, or visit www.projectimpact.org.uk.