Hackney GIving
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Lauren Tobias, CEO of Volunteer Centre Hackney

Hackney Giving catches up with Lauren Tobias, CEO of Volunteer Centre Hackney, and asks about her experience of pitching to the audience at Hackney Giving Live for a project to support people with mental health conditions.

HG: Could you tell us about your experience of Hackney Giving live crowdfunding?
LT: Pitching to a live audience was nerve wracking but exciting! It was great to do a live pitch because it gave me the opportunity to get the message out that mentoring and volunteering are great ways to support people experiencing mental health issues. I felt everyone in the audience was on our side.

HG: How has the Step Up project gone?
LT: Really well – the funding from Hackney Giving has allowed us to employ a 
co-ordinator for an extra day per week over six months and that’s made a huge difference in terms of developing and publicising the project. We’ve recruited an extra 12 voluntary mentors who have given one to one support to people with mental health illnesses.

HG: How does the project work?
LT: The mentors support people who have mental health conditions into volunteering positions. People with mental health issues may feel isolated and lack the confidence to take that first step into a volunteering placement. Also, they may also be worried or nervous about telling people that you have a mental health condition, and so end up staying at home to avoid symptoms becoming apparent in a workplace. The mentors work with them to help them develop skills, build confidence and find interesting and appropriate volunteering roles.

HG: Any advice for groups thinking of applying to pitch at Hackney Giving Live?
LT: Go for it! It's a great expereince - it's fun and dynamic; it allows you to get an important message out to the audience and it raises funds.

‘Having the support of my mentor, Christine, has made a big difference to my life as I have someone to talk to about how I’m feeling and I know there is someone looking out for me. I’m now happily volunteering in an organisation with good support where I’m getting back into working habits after a long time out of a job.' Mary, Step Up participant.