Alvin Lewis is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham, and tutored with us when Team Up operated in the Midlands. Here, he writes about his experience attending our Alumni Network Launch Event, and reflects on what Team Up has achieved.
Image: Alvin strikes a pose at our Alumni Launch Event
My name is Alvin Lewis and I am a Londoner, Arsenal fan, recent graduate of the University of Birmingham, and Team Up alumnus. As a fresher, I remember being proselytised into joining numerous societies, and I signed up enthusiastically to a host of different societies, from ‘Brum Dine With Me’ to American Football. As fun as these sounded, I knew that I also wanted to sign up for something a little more rewarding that gave back to the community, and that is where Team Up came in.
The major pull factor for me was the ethos of the charity. Team Up have always worked hard to tackle the barriers to social mobility and reduce the level of inequality between children from low-income backgrounds and their peers in schools across the country. This was a mission that felt close to my heart and as a firm believer in the value of social equality, I felt drawn to Team Up and immediately connected to the cause. English was one of my favourite subjects at school, and I thought that if I could instil my love of English in a group of disillusioned pupils, this might well become the driving factor in their applying for university and changing their mind about education for the better altogether.
Some time after my own time as a tutor, I received a very welcome invitation in my inbox to come along to the launch of the Team Up Alumni Network Event. The invitation mentioned that the evening would be a great way to network and get involved with Team Up in new, exciting ways, and I couldn’t wait to learn what these were.
The evening was split into three parts, firstly invitees were given the opportunity to informally network and catch up with friends old and new. The second part of the evening was a presentation that included the following an update on Team Up, a perspective from Team Up’s first ever pupil who is now setting up her own tuition company, a talk from a former tutor, Parwez, who is now working for the government, and a professional perspective from Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE, Team Up’s chairman.
Stefan Allesch-Taylor speaking at our Alumni Network Launch Event. Image by Maahwish Mirza
Finally, the good folks at the Team Up hub introduced us to ways former tutors could be involved with the charity. We learned about how we could be involved in fundraising activities, delivering enrichment workshops for Team Up pupils as alumni, expanding Team Up’s network, as well as bringing our own ideas to the table. This last part of the evening was an exciting brainstorming session merged with a networking event and a really great opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and meet some of the great people behind Team Up’s work.
It really was a fantastic evening and some of my personal highlights included meeting the people involved with Team Up’s mission. Meeting the energetic founder Sharla was great; her story really moved and inspired me and my personal belief is that under her direction, Team Up will reach even greater heights over the next few years. Hearing from Team Up’s chairman, Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE, was also invaluable as he spoke insightfully and passionately about the importance of social entrepreneurship and demonstrated to us the wider societal impact of Team Up’s work.
I also found speaking to Dana and learning about her story to be another highlight. It was truly inspirational to speak to a person who has been through the entire Team Up journey, from academically struggling pupil from a low-income background to Team Up tutor and budding social entrepreneur! To hear her sing multiple praises of Team Up in aiding her entrance into university, receiving a top degree and becoming a young entrepreneur, was really uplifting and a great reminder of what our hours of tutoring can engender. Dana is a personification of the success of Team Up and I believe that if we continue to nurture the inherent talents and intelligence of the pupils targeted by Team Up, we can help so many more bright young people in challenging circumstances to realise their potential.
Dana Osadebe and Parwaz Samnakay at our Alumni Launch Event. Image by Maahwish Mirza
I came to the alumni event because I wanted to find out more about what Team Up have been up to, and some of the potential opportunities for involvement. I came away feeling strongly connected to Team Up’s cause and convinced that I wanted to be a part of the exciting next step of their journey! I’m really looking forward to the next big alumni meet up and becoming even more involved with Team Up moving forward. I am particularly excited about the voluntary opportunities to work on enrichment sessions for pupils, and about everything else 2016/17 holds for Team Up!
Alvin is running 10k to raise funds for Team Up in our back-to-school fun run on the 30th April, help him reach his target here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/alvinlewis1
To find out more about how to be involved as an alumnus, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org