| 04 June 2020
Summary:“Volunteering allows you to put yourself at the heart of the community, building it with those that you love most” – Rochelle Nyabunze, MTVH resident and founder of The Feel Good Community.
This Volunteers Week, we are celebrating MTVH residents who devote their time and talent to making positive change in their communities. After being diagnosed with postnatal depression, Rochelle Nyabunze became motivated to change the narrative surrounding mental health in the BAME community. From this, The Feel Good Community was born; a project offering advice, support, and activities to promote positive wellbeing. Rochelle said; “Enough was enough, I knew I had to do something, and that something was The Feel Good Community.”
Collaborating with MTVH
MTVH have been involved in the project since the beginning. Rochelle’s Housing Officer heard of her plans for the Feel Good Community and advised her to share them with Saiful Alam, who was an MTVH Neighbourhood Investment Officer at the time. Saiful became a source of motivation, helping Rochelle put words into action. After numerous discussions and shared ideas, Rochelle and Saiful established a way of working collaboratively to support the local community in Hackney; “Saiful saw potential in me when I was unable to see it for myself. Getting in touch with him was one of the best decisions I could have made.”
With support from Saiful, Rochelle has hosted Feel Good Community events at the Whitmore Community Centre free of charge and accessed grants to cover additional costs. Reflecting on these events, Rochelle said that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive; “I truly believe everything happens for a reason and everything that I have been through now makes perfect sense.”
In just one year, The Feel Good Community has blossomed from a few positive posts on social media to numerous successful events; “We went from working independently to working collaboratively with MTVH, supporting residents within the wider community.”
Reflecting on the success of The Feel Good Community, Saiful said; “Today Rochelle is one of our most active resident volunteers and MTVH are proud to be a partner. Rochelle and I are now working to apply for grant funding to further develop The Feel Good Community.
Responding to crisis
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Rochelle and her team have adapted to help meet the changed needs of their local community by delivering care packages of essential food, toiletries and cleaning products o those mos in need. She notes; “Many have mentioned that without this service they didn’t know if they would have been able to feed their families.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic highlighting the need to support families experiencing food poverty Rochelle has also been leading on a project with Saiful to coordinate the distribution of hot meals to MTVH residents.
Times of crisis often bring people together. This has been Rochelle’s experience in recent weeks; “Community spirit is what’s getting so many of us through this extremely difficult time.”
To find out more about Rochelle’s work you can follow @thefeelgoodcomm on Twitter and Instagram.