As part of our regular ‘Charity Spotlight’ series we talk to Tejash Patel, Youth Worker & Director of Operations at COG Youth Services – a volunteer led, Leicester-based social enterprise that supports young people by putting them at the heart of the organisation.
If you would like to take part in a Charity Spotlight and showcase your charity, get in touch now.
Q1. What does your charity do?
COG Youth Services Ltd is a volunteer led organisation that supports and enables young people by enabling their voice and putting them at the heart of the organisation and creating opportunities centred around their needs, so they can make positive impacts in their local communities and gain skills and experience that will help them to transition into adult life.
We provide these opportunities for young people aged 13-17 from Leicester, Leicestershire and the UK.
Q2. What is your role within the charity?
I am the Founder, Operations Director and Youth Worker for COG Youth Services.
Q3. What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
The most rewarding part of the role has to be meeting and learning about young people, building a positive relationship and then seeing them start their own careers and businesses.
Q4. Where can people find out more about your charity?
The best place to learn more is currently our website, we are also starting to use social media more, in particular Instagram and YouTube where you can keep up to date about all our projects and developments.
Q5. How has your charity been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic had a huge impact on the organisation. To begin with we issued refunds to schools that accounted for almost 70% of our annual income.
We then had to scale back and stop many of our volunteering opportunities and I had to begin working as a long distance driver.
We still managed to run some school trips, but we did this at cost as the main thing was to see the young people complete and achieve the awards they had started with us before the pandemic arrived.
Q6. Are you still providing all of your services? Have you had to adapt any?
We are slowly building our services back up. The pandemic forced us to move to more of an online approach and therefore have invested heavily in an online learning platform, where we hope to continue to provide extra-curricular projects and learning to more young people and reduce our costs to schools in the process.
It will also help us to better prepare future volunteers with basic training and provide them with qualifications for what they do.
Q7. Are you currently fundraising or holding virtual events/activities?
We currently don’t have any upcoming fundraisers planned for ourselves, but we are planning to try and raise money for Comic Relief, Children in Need and other charities by organising a mass online haircut.
Later in the year, we are hoping to host a virtual run and maybe even a real life climb to the top of Snowdon again.
Q8. Do you have any tips for charities who are struggling with the pressures of COVID-19?
I don’t really have any tips! I think the main things to remember is that, as organisations of social change, we are happy to help each other.
Also try to find unique ways to raise money. Our favourite ideas are when we take ideas from the old world and turn them in to online activities, such as village fete games.
Q9. How can the public help you right now?
As an organisation, we rely 100% on volunteers. Even I’m a volunteer. We are always looking for volunteers (young and old), especially if you have technical skills, such as website building, marketing or recruitment and training.
Please get in touch with us via our website if this is of interest to you!
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