WLZ Link Worker Wins Leap’s Inspirational Adult Award!

07 Jul WLZ Link Worker Wins Leap’s Inspirational Adult Award!

In May 2017, the youth charity Leap: Confronting Conflict ran its annual awards to celebrate the young people, professionals and organisations who have excelled at managing conflict in our communities.

The big prize – the ‘Inspirational Adult’ award – went to one of our Link Workers, Farial Missi. Here, our CEO, Louisa Mitchell, and Farial herself share their perspectives on what is a huge achievement for a new charity and for a professional just shy of 25 years old.  

The short video shown on the night is included below. More information on the awards can be found here.

Louisa Mitchell, CEO

It was bold and ambitious of the West London Zone team to nominate our Link Worker, Farial Missi, for the 2017 Inspirational Adult Award. We are a new charity, with a limited track record and Farial – with us for two years – would undoubtedly have the shortest career of all the applicants. We were told after we sent Farial’s application in that ‘she was up against some really strong competition’, so we knew it was a tough call.

When we arrived at the offices of Bloomberg, where hundreds of guests were thronging around the bar, we felt like the very new charity we are, aware of the brilliant people all around us who had years of combined experience supporting children and young people.

We sat down with Farial flanked by her Mum and me, her CEO. This was a seating arrangement she would later regret. The young people hosting the evening got the audience feeling vulnerable, so that by the time the awards came around we were adequately emotional. The Runner Up was announced and sounded amazing. I saw something cross Farial’s face, it was as if she thought her chances were up because she couldn’t possibly be a stronger candidate than the runner-up – such is her humility.

When the first words ‘the winner is from a new charity…’ were uttered, we knew Farial had won. The tears instantly poured down her Mum’s cheeks. Pounced on from both sides by two over-emotional women was more than she could cope with and she had to work hard to compose herself before going up on stage – but, as ever, she did. This was a phenomenal achievement.

Farial was awarded for being a mentor, a leader, a professional, an organiser, someone who doesn’t give up and does everything she can to get each child or young person she works with on track to a flourishing life. She is the ideal profile of a WLZ Link Worker – local, a role model, ex-head girl at the school she is working in, highly efficient, totally dedicated, able to relate to the young people she works with as well as the experts and professionals who support them.

While this award was for Farial, who richly earned it, Leap also acknowledged the innovative nature of her role and WLZ’s very long term and targeted approach as one of the reasons she came out on top. We are a young charity with much yet to prove and I don’t think we really expected Farial could win at this early stage of our development against such strong competition.

It takes hard work and perseverance to get a new model off the ground and then make it sustainable. Thank you Leap for acknowledging that and giving the whole team a large dose of energy and pride.

Lighting the Fire 2017 in London photographed for LEAP by Tabatha Fireman

 

Farial Missi, Link Worker, Phoenix Academy

I was humbled to find out that I had been nominated by my WLZ team for the Leap 2017 Inspirational Adult Award. Having been a challenging yet fulfilling few months for the whole team, I was appreciative that they had thought of me for the award and taken time out of their hectic schedules to complete the application. This meant more to me than winning the award.

In all truthfulness, I had second thoughts about attending the award ceremony. I had just had an overwhelming week at work and also believed that there was no way of winning as I was up against incredible professionals with more years and experience in the sector. However, I was reminded by a meeting I had that morning, with one of the young girls I support, where we discussed the importance of stepping out of our comfort zone so that to reach our potential and achieve our goals. This girl had started of the WLZ programme not wanting to partake in any partner support as she feared failure and not fitting in, but then grew into a role model to her peers by empathising and encouraging them to try new things, be optimistic and to not give up.

This reminder continued into the evening as I glanced around the overflowing room of inspirational individuals and organisations – it was astonishing to see so many people with the common aim to ensure that children and young people succeed and reach their potential. All of them there to support and cheer on not only the young people, but also each other.

All I could think of was that just over 20 months ago I had been interviewed by Louisa and Rahel (Head Link Worker) for my current role, and both emphasised that WLZ was an ambitious start-up with the aim to support children and young people who need it the most in my community. I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of this model and to this day I do not regret it!

I have seen this model develop to be able to provide sustainable and rightly tailored support for the children and young people we work with. I have also seen our children, young people and their families grow in different ways, whether it be a parent be more engaged in their child’s life or a child achieving their short-term goals and looking forward to a positive future. This award represents the collective effort, hard work and drive of all my colleagues at WLZ. They are all inspirational adults!

Lighting the Fire 2017 in London photographed for LEAP by Tabatha Fireman

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