“Everyday, everyone should do one selfless act which helps someone out or makes someone else smile.”
Studying at the University of Birmingham, Lucia currently leads the Help the Homeless society – which she founded during her first year at university. Today, it has 60 monthly volunteers, over 200 members and has raised over £3,000 for homeless charities within the last year. Lucia is also a part of the Green Party’s 30 under 30 cohort, networking with politicians and learning about political campaigning.
Take a read to find out more about Lucia, her motivation behind creating the society, her aims in politics and her thoughts on the whole university experience…
Why did I decide to start the Help the Homeless Society at my university? I just saw all of the homeless people in the City Centre and it really got me down, so I tried to find societies at uni who did work with the homeless. But I was shocked that none of them did! Especially since homelessness is such a big problem in Birmingham today.
So in December 2015 I simply messaged everyone I knew from my University, on Facebook, to see if they would be interested in volunteering. And without much effort, there was a wave of interest! So I contacted lots of charities to see if they needed volunteers and we began volunteering the “We Are Happy Club” social enterprise, handing out lunches to the homeless once a week.
I found that the biggest issue with homelessness is peoples stereotypes about them. Many people think that homeless people are just lazy people who are all addicts – which is incorrect. Many people suffered family breakdowns, mental illness, redundancy from work or have fleed from war to come to this country meaning that they have lost their homes.
Our ultimate aim is to change people’s perceptions of homeless people through education by interacting with homeless people. We feel that we are starting to achieve this aim with our 60 monthly volunteers however we would like to increase this to 100 volunteers next year.
Our goal is also to raise lots of funds for homelessness-related charities, especially within Birmingham. This year we have already raised over £3000 but would like to raise over £5000 next year.
When it comes to politics… I’ve always been really interested in political affairs and my main career goal is to be an MP! I think that UK’s high inequality leads to social incohesion. I would like to work for the Green Party to work towards more investment in deprived areas, more opportunities for people in lower socio-economic groups and more equality for minority groups.
Throughout my journey I have developed as a person by starting and leading the society. I have learnt how to be a leader of a huge team and it has inspired me to want to start my own social enterprise in the future, to maximise the impact I can have on my wider community. Going to university, I learnt that when lots of people work together you can make huge progress and action. For example, I recently created a petition against a local restaurant in selly oak using Foie Gras and after 580 sutdents signed it they decided to take it off of the menu!
To end things, being selected for the Barclays sponsored campaign for ‘Women to Watch in 2017’ for Birmingham students was a honouring achievement! It felt amazing to be picked as I didn’t expect to be recognised for my extra-curricular work. it is also a great platform for me to promote my help the homeless group and attract future volunteers.