Meet our residential volunteers
Since re-opening the doors to our historic building this year, we’ve delivered a range of heritage-inspired learning projects and community events to encourage the next generation of social activists to drive change in their communities. This includes working with local schools on history and arts projects, holding forum events and workshops as well as undertaking research to better our understanding of the lives of people in our community.
Designing and delivering these projects are a team of residential volunteers who live on site to become a part of the community and design projects with the people they live alongside. We have four volunteers – a researcher, storyteller, social innovator, and artist. Here they have written a short blog about themselves, their work with us and what they’re working on outside of Toynbee Hall.
David Baker – Researcher
I’m the Research and Evaluation residential volunteer at Toynbee Hall. I work under Head of Research Dr. Xia Lin applying my expertise in research and data analysis to the various projects that Dr. Lin’s team undertakes. Since starting, I’ve analysed survey data looking for patterns in the needs of older people in Tower Hamlets, interviewed local residents on their beliefs towards saving money for the Building Societies Association, and explored data sets looking at savings patterns across all people throughout Great Britain. Outside of his volunteering, I’m in the final months of finishing my PhD dissertation modeling how people learn melodies.While trying to teach a computer to how to learn a melody might seem distant from the daily goals and mission statement of Toynbee Hall, there is large overlap between both the humanities-driven thinking required for charity work and the scientific tools that he employs in his charity work. After finishing as a residential volunteer, I hope to continue to do pro bono data analysis for charities throughout my career.
Annick Metefia – Social Innovator
During my BA in anthropology in France, I focused on the experiences of first and second generation young people like me, their relationship to their parents’ home countries and cultures, influenced by the work of sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad. The title of my Master’s degree in Paris was Migrations and Race Relations, where I specialised in anti racist education for children and young people. I worked for different community and youth centres in and around Paris, designing and facilitating programmes for young people to express themselves on topics such as discrimination and human rights. My last job in Paris was in France’s biggest charity on asylum, where I ran a hot line to support frontline workers giving legal advice to refugees, and created partnerships with housing associations, social services and businesses to facilitate access to housing, employment and health services for refugees.Around the same time, I became a member of France’s main Black feminist organisation, Mwasi, and a regular supporter of several organisations fighting police brutality and deaths in custody.
When I moved to London in July 2017, I joined Voices that Shake, an East London-based project that brings together young people, artists and campaigners to develop creative responses to social injustice, where I’ve been running a social justice book club and writing and performing poetry. Since March 2018, I am Network Coordinator for Kinfolk Network, a young organisation aiming to create support networks between black activists in the UK. I also support the United Friends and Families Campaign against deaths in custody and work on creating networks between France and the UK to bring together activists from different countries on all these issues. Finally,I have recently started working on a project for a toolkit to support people who want to explore their immigrant family’s history and culture, project I’m experimenting on myself by recording interviews with my father.
Sinéad O’Brien – Storyteller
I am Toynbee’s resident storyteller, I have a background in the performing arts and tourism. As part of my work with Toynbee I am organising storytelling events for the local community to look at our history and heritage as well as encouraging people and communities to find their voice and gain confidence in expressing themselves and their needs. Last November I hosted a Storytelling Night at Toynbee Hall with a mix of locals, storytellers and spoken word artists, following the success of that and the feedback from our audience and the locals involved, I am now hosting another Storytelling Night on Feb 15th, this evening will focus on stories about living and growing up in the East End and I will have space for those attending to share their own stories if they wish. It’s a chance for the community and local artists to come together and share their stories and the heritage of Tower Hamlets.
In March I am delivering a fun tour of Toynbee Hall all about the women of Toynbee as part of Women’s History Month. I am also looking forward to sharing some of my own Irish heritage with Toynbee Hall on St. Patrick’s Day, I will be performing traditional Irish myths, legends and folklore stories in the Halls on Sun March 17th.
My last two project before finishing up my residency are an inter-generational project with a cross section of the local Bengali community and a Radio Drama I will make and record with help from locals and the Toynbee Hall staff. It will be about the different services we offer at Toynbee Hall and I’m hoping to get it broadcast on local regional and hospital radio stations.
While resident at Toynbee I am also working at Wilton’s Music Hall another part of the East End’s heritage. I also freelance as a storyteller, actor and dramaturg (fancy German word, it means someone who helps with the drama making process in performance- like a Literary Manager). I am performing a work in progress of a new theatre piece I am developing with my theatre company at the end of February. We will be performing in a festival in Dublin before taking the finished piece on a small European tour this summer.
Here in Tower Hamlets I am working on a storytelling piece for Tower Hamlets Library and Local History Museum about the Match Girl’s Strike for one of their upcoming exhibitions and I deliver storytelling workshops in schools for students and for teachers. Storytelling is a great way to support child literacy but also is a wonderful way to explore our shared heritage and learn more about cultures and history in a way that is perhaps more engaging and memorable than simply studying the history books. I hope my work with Toynbee and others helps to include more of the voices left out of our history books and encourages people to share their stories and be heard. Amazing things are accomplished when communities and voices come together.
Kayleigh Doughty – Artist
Born and raised in South London, I have always had a particular interest in brightening up walls and building on relationships within local communities. I studied at Brighton University where I completed a BA in Communication Design and have been a street artist for the last 10 years.
While a residential volunteer at Toynbee hall I have established a relationship with the a local primary school and a youth club, where I have provided platforms for pupils and young people to be more creative in their approach to being heard. My main focus is to build on Toynbee Hall’s pre-existing relationships with the local community, as well as tackling isolation and providing creative development training to individual people with disabilities. Off the back of this work a handful of public murals will be left to be enjoyed by local people.