Hello everyone, Zainab here, back from maternity leave! It’s been an incredible year, bringing new life into the world, and watching the growth of my family-led small business, Wander Wild Forest School. I’ve had a fun and often stressful time learning what it means to have a newborn and toddler, and the basics of running a small business including the fun that is account management. It’s been an intense learning experience but also rewarding for not only my personal life but my career trajectory too. As I reflect, the following points really rung true:
Conversations can grow into real impact.
Wander Wild Forest School started as an idea over dinner with my husband. Fast forward, being awarded a grant of £1,000 from the Barking Riverside Limited (BRL) Community Fund in March 2023, and then £10,000 from London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD)’s Neighbourhood Fund (NCIL) in August 2023, we’ve been able to gather over 500 families and get them excited about being outdoors! Our sessions have included outdoor cooking, bug hunting, whittling, planting, sawing and more. We also end with a time of singing or our special mini kamishibai theatre! The families absolutely love the time we spend together!
Community work is all about relationships.
2023 was filled with beautiful moments meeting people in the community and some really hard moments. The main thing I learned in both scenarios is to recognise everyone’s humanity. It’s so easy in community work to think outcomes first but it’s important to pursue sincere connections as they go a longer way to making lasting change. Real connections have continued to open doors and I’m grateful to all the people who have been a helping hand.
Comms is all about nailing your story.
If there’s one thing, I would love to master this year it’s nailing the art of storytelling! If you’re reading this blog, you are already connected to Thames Life in some way. You hopefully know that we’re all about building people power and not in an arbitrary way, but we’ve heard people talk about what’s important to them; access to health care, warm and cosy spaces and we think their voices should shape where they live. Period. Hopefully, I can tell our story better, so we get the recognition that changes things.