Countdown 2030, SDGs Conference

In winter of 2015, UCL institution for ‘Global Poverty’ was holding a conference – one academic conference at the UCL institution and a pop-up workshop with installations in Stratford, East London. The conference brought together award-winning young entrepreneurs and the millennial generation on the roadmap to 2030 when the United Nations (UN) will strive to eradicate poverty worldwide by achieving the 17 set goals. As I was at the academic conference, with fellow UpRisers and UpRising Alumni (in partnership with Queen Mary University of London) we volunteered to act as correspondence by tweeting on all things based on the 20 years to prosperity and Sustainable Development Goals. It was a day packed with cakes, Twitter and fun and entailed a very informative and interesting agenda with key issues that were being discussed.

The team! At the end of a successful day full of tweeting all Sustainable Goals related topics

The team! At the end of a successful day full of tweeting all Sustainable Goals related topics



Q&A at the end of the second half of the conference! Many points were raised about ‘How many aspirations are based on what people want the world to look like rather than personal objectives and goals’ Data shows millennial are not as selfish and narcissistic as people may think, as young people aged between 18-30 years are the new game changers, we are the millennium generation!


Some interesting issues were raised about the link between poor education and health. Studies show that there is a link between people who have poor school performance and poor health in later life, this makes sense, right!. Poor education leads to the likelihood of dropping out of school, becoming unemployed and thus receiving welfare. Therefore, the prospects of attaining a job or building a career are non-existent. Consequently leading to low self-confidence, self-worth and inevitably depression. The adverse effects of not investing in good quality education – stay in school kids!

Top 10 Places to Visit in Mile End

Are you new to Queen Mary and exploring the area? Maybe you are a Queen Mary veteran who simply wants to leave the house without having to endure the tube. Whatever your age, interests (or the weather), Mile End has an abundance of activities to suit everyone. To help you enjoy those long summer days, here is a helpful guide to the top 10 places to visit without having to leave Mile End.

10. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is London’s most urban Woodland, and one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries. Whilst the Cemetery is now a designated park and hasn’t been used for burials since 1966, the unique history and solace of the park makes it the perfect summer escape. From the stories of mass graves burying up to 30 deceased bodies during the 1850’s to being bombed 5 times during The Blitz, the cemetery is now a nature reserve and educational facility. From my experiences, the Cemetery Park is the perfect place to escape to with a good book on a sunny afternoon, although it is open from dawn until dusk. Looking for something to fill in the long summer days? The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park are always searching for volunteers to join their team and help tend to the park.

9. The Half Moon (AKA ‘Spoons’)

Everybody knows that Wetherspoons is a student staple: cheap food, cheap drinks and a relaxing atmosphere. Mile End is home to the beloved Half Moon Wetherspoon franchise, “the local” for Queen Mary students. The pub and restaurant is the former home of the Half Moon Theatre and a Methodist Chapel; the interesting history and architecture of the Half Moon therefore makes it a must-see for anybody visiting Mile End. If you’re looking for summer drinks, ‘pub grub’ or in need of a substantial meal, The Half Moon is the place to go. And fun fact: The Half Moon was dedicated to showcasing modern socialist plays during its time as a theatre.

8. Mile End Skate Park

Looking to take up a new skill? Mile End Skate Park is perfect for learning the art of skateboarding, with several ledges, flat areas and manual pads to help assist beginners with getting their balance on board. Come rain or shine, Mile End Skate Park has indoor and outdoor ramps and many unique lines on which you can spend all day practicing. You could even pass the time at the skate park celebrity spotting, as Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks filmed their music video for “Heart Skips a Beat” in Mile End Skate Park back in 2011 when the park first opened.

7. The Coffee Room

With all the leisure facilities and sporting opportunities available in Mile End, this list would not be complete without a hip café to refuel and relax. My personal favourite is the Coffee Room, situated on Grove Road. Run by a team of friendly Italians, the coffee and food is perfezionare and the café has an authentic Italian ambiance. Whilst the coffee may be slightly more expensive than coffeehouse chains, it is worth paying those extra pennies; they even serve a bespoke Italian hot chocolate. As a lunch option, The Coffee Room offers a healthy selection of foods which can be enjoyed in an intimate terrace or cosy indoor seating area. Ultimately, I would recommend The Coffee Room for its delicious selection of cakes, cookies and brownies (and its baked goods in general, of which I have shamelessly tried them all).

6. Mile End Leisure Centre

Also known as Mile End Stadium, this venue has multi-sports facilities available to use at reasonable rates. The leisure centre currently holds 10 sports courses, ranging from street dancing and trampolining to a specialised Tom Daley Diving Academy. Alternatively, the leisure centre has a variety of facilities such as a fully-equipped gym, sports hall, studio and swimming pools which you can use on a pay as you go basis or for a subscription fee. If you’re looking to get fit with friends, Mile End leisure centre also has numerous pitches and tracks which can be hired out for group sessions.

5. Mile End Park

Running alongside Queen Mary is Mile End Park; a unique park divided into different zones, each with their own personality. A popular hangout for Queen Mary students during the summer months is the Art Pavilion, which hosts community events including farmer’s markets and summer fetes. My personal favourite part of the park is the Ecology Park, which is home to many species of wildlife that live in the picturesque lake. In addition to wildlife spotting in the Ecology Park, the Ecology Pavilion is also a popular venue for weddings and christenings. And of course, no park is complete without a play area… the one situated in Mile End Park is very impressive and boasts state-of-the-art children’s playground facilities (which I unfortunately haven’t tried). As the park is an impressive 32 hectares in size, there is also an audio walking tour to help you discover all the opportunities Mile End Park has to offer.

4. The Greedy Cow

For award-winning burgers and steaks, Mile End’s Greedy Cow is a must-visit restaurant. Every visit to the Greedy Cow has been an exciting fine-dining experience, with exotic meats such as Wagyu, kangaroo, bison and crocodile recently appearing on the menu. Matching the unusual steak cuts is the quirky interior of The Greedy Cow, which has a rustic theme but a cosy atmosphere. The Greedy Cow has also won several TimeOut ‘Love London’ awards for its quality service and quality meat. Great food and good value really does lie at the heart of The Greedy Cow, and with a special Student Lunch Special offering a burger, side and unlimited soft drinks for £7.50, missing it would be a real miSTEAK.

3. Mile End Climbing Wall

If you’re really looking to challenge yourself over the summer months, look no further than Mile End Climbing Wall which has some of the highest walls without roped protection in the country. The 16,000sq ft climbing surface has something to offer for everyone, as the centre runs sessions for complete novices to seasoned professionals. Famous for having one of the friendliest and most relaxed atmospheres of all the climbing walls in the capital, Mile End’s climbing wall has the perfect environment and tailored sessions to help you learn; including taster sessions, level 1 bouldering and weekend or evening beginners’ classes. Looking for a more social occasion? Why not book a party or join the climbing club at Mile End climbing wall?

2. Roman Road Market

As a self-confessed shopaholic on a student loan, Roman Road Market is my paradise. Whilst the shops on Roman Road are an eclectic mix of modern and traditional, the market is primarily a clothes market which sells branded favourites, such as Topshop and French Connection, but at a fraction of the price. Roman Road Market has been running for over 150 years and is situated on the oldest known trade route in Britain; its long-established history therefore attracts some of the best market sellers around. The market runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; although I’d advise anybody to get there early to grab the best bargains.

1.Victoria Park

Number one place to visit in Mile End is, of course, the famous Victoria Park; London’s oldest and most beautiful parkland. The 218-acre park is also known as the People’s Park, as it was created by the Queen Victoria to provide a recreational space for the working classes of East London during the Victorian era. Today the recreational function of the park continues all year round, with Victoria park offering numerous leisure facilities, including a boating lake, lawn bowling area and a large bandstand. During the summer months, the park really comes alive and hosts some of the UK’s biggest music festivals, such as Lovebox and Field day. The park actually hosts an extensive summer events programme, and all the events are free! Moreover, for the best brunch in London, look no further than the Pavilion café in Victoria Park. Situated in the Western area of the park, the Pavilion Café sells a delicious range of brunch classics (well, in my experiences, a delicious range of avocado-related dishes which have satisfied my avocado obsession). Whilst an afternoon chilling in the park is a quintessential perfect summer afternoon, in Victoria Park you can spend your day in London’s best park without even having to leave the comfort of Mile End!

42 Miles London Marathon: you don’t always have to run :)

1981 was the year of the first London Marathon. Since then, the event has become the biggest single fundraising day in the World! And this year, 2016, marks the 35th time of its happening.

Some facts on the Event include:
– Course length: 42 miles with the finish line right outside Buckingham Palace
– Fastest finish time recored: 2:03:05 by Eliud Kipchoge (2016)
– Number of Runners: 35,000+ registered in 2016
– Total fund raised: £54 million recorded in 2015

Such an amazing event with impressive numbers in the heart of London every Easter!

Would you get involved? Would I get involved?
The answer is Why not?!

I am pretty certain that 42 Miles may be a great challenge for me, as I am not very athletic myself (sadly). And perhaps the idea of just blending in with the crowd at a cheer point and scream out runners’ names to keep them going is just not appealing enough to get me out of the house and spend half the day outdoor. But surely putting me on the course and giving me a Marshal tag is!


80+ QM Student Volunteers at the London Marathon 2013-16

80+ QMUL Student Volunteers at the London Marathon 2013-16


The QMUL Volunteer Service has been having this honour to be involved with the London Marathon for a period of time. Each year, there are 80 positions for students to volunteer at the event (look at the amazing collage above!) – in particularly, marshaling the route roughly between Mile 18 and 19 entirely within Canary Wharf. No previous marshaling experience required (haha), basic training and briefing is provided together with “gears” for the day, light refreshments and of course uniforms. All you need to do is look out for the registration form closer to the date (available in March – early April), apply and bring your best smile and encouragement!

In terms of provision, you’ll have 2 briefings – 1 is on campus a week before the event to give you information on the event, to equip you and to get you exited while the other will be on the day itself, to highlight your task of the day and to remind you on key information (contact, toilets, security,…). Additionally, there’s a goodie bag that includes a T-Shirt and a cap (from Adidas for the past 3 years I’ve done this event), course pass (that enables access to the route), area map, timing calculations, key contacts, juices, snack bars and a fresh fruit maybe (3 times apple for me). Great prep! Great energy! 🙂


London Marathon 2014-16 course passes

London Marathon 2014-16 course passes


The day kicks off as early as 8am. Meeting point has been at Upper Bank street all these times and Volunteers are gathered at a nearby building to go through the brief. After that, we’ll have a chance to grab more snacks and use the toilet before going to our position. Walking the route backwards, Team leaders will assign volunteers to some position, possibly in a pair, a 3 or a 4, most likely at crossing points and turning points. Crossing point “managers” coordinate with one another (and with turning point if they are close to one) and decide when to open the barriers and let spectators cross the course – let me answer that, when there are no runners. The task is significantly important as crossing at inconvenient time would interrupt the runners. On the other hand, at turning point, it is crucial to keep an eye out and notify crossing point when they can’t see what’s coming.

Some questions I have had while volunteering includes:
– How to get to the other side? – this question comes up when the crossing point is closed. I usually tell them to cross via the DLR bridge (which TFL staff not always happy about) or to go to Lower Ground B-)
– Where’s the nearest toilet? – for spectators, I’ll suggest the shopping centre and for runners, I’ll check the information card I have
– What Mile is this? Well, in between 18 and 19 *pointing where’s 18 and where’s 19*
– Is there a double viewing point? – this, depends on the course each year actually. For the 3 years I did 2014-16, only 2014 had a double viewing point, looking at Mile 15 and Mile 18.
– Did Mo Farah run past here? – Well, if you saw him then yes, if you haven’t maybe he will xD

The day can certainly seem long. In fact, it is! – From 8am to 5pm (that’s 9 hours logged to your profile on QMSU Volunteer towards that certificate you deserve!). Things get really busy 12-3pm as there will be waves and waves of runners and constant cheering, whistling and noises made with a variety of instruments xD Well, did I mention there will be live music?
You’ll see so many different colours from costumes, face paint and even shoelaces 🙂 things that don’t normally go together for an ordinary afternoon. And the energy is just enormous! People cheering, people meeting up with their runners, people giving out Haribo, people taking selfies in the middle of the course, and of course, lots and lots of people running…

Overall, I find the event very nice and interesting. I definitely got friends involved in the subsequent years I participated. Being there cheering for the runners who are determined to complete the marathon for the good cause they are supporting makes me really really happy. It is not an easy route they are on and you will see some struggles. That makes me admire and appreciate those who kept going and achieved what they set out. One day in 2015, I told a friend of mine that later on, when I don’t get this opportunity to volunteer for the London Marathon through QMUL anymore, I’ll run it. Well… That’s also something to look forward too 🙂



UpRising Leadership Programme, in partnership with Queen Mary – Dragons’ Den

UpRising, a nine-month leadership programme, was looking for 25 young people, aged between 19-25 who live or work in the borough of Tower Hamlets. The programme (that took place on Wednesday evenings) offered a first-hand view of how politics, businesses, the public sector and community organisations work together to shape our community through a series of workshops. All the UpRisers were given an opportunity to work in groups to design and deliver a social action campaign on issues that we were passionate about.

Based on our social action plan we chose to stand for Women in Technology – cliche right?! It’s actually not. We recognise that every woman is different, therefore, our aim is to increase awareness and empower BAME (Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic) Women in Technology where there is currently little discussion on the topic. We were inspired by groups like ‘Women and Girls in IT’ and saw a niche on raising awareness for BAME women  in Tec sectors. Thus, we strive to facilitate an ongoing discussion of the increasing current predicament of underrepresented BAME women in Tec, we strive to redefine what ‘Women in Technology’ means in the 21st century and to expand it beyond the traditional notion of geeky men on computers all day.


Pitch day, Dragons Den


Ahh memories – when we all first met and all cohorts came together at the retreat.


We emphasize the fact that intersectionality, the interconnected nature of social categories which influence systems of society, for example, race, gender, class and ethnicity could influence social mobility, create barriers to promotion and cause unconscious biases – based on Kimberle Crenshaw (1989).  Therefore, we recognise that there is not one type of feminism that fits all, from one woman to another we have multi-layered facets as individuals. This makes us unique and should not be used to suppress us but to help us stand out. Additionally, we aim to extend on the G20 goals which pledged to get more than 100 million women into the global workforce by 2025 in order to improve gender equality in the workforce.














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I think we were all so excited to start presenting with all the adrenaline rush and once it was our time to showcase what we have been working on we could not wait.


One of the best experiences of UpRising would have to be meeting so many like-minded people, there was always a great atmosphere and energy in the room – never short of conversation and debates.


We were awarded runners-up – Yay! No but seriously, we never anticipated it nor did we think that we would be ready in time for the Dragons’ Den, but I am so proud of our group and so thankful to the UpRising team for giving us that added push and confidence. As well as forming networks with senior figures, we also built strong networks amongst our peer.

Why not follow us to get the latest updates..

Twitter – @empower_wit

Trolley Dash in Olympia

It was a happy day. One of the happiest day that I had. I’m talking about the Trolley Dash of course.

I used to love toys and my favourite would be my cooking set… Or Barbie… Or my Sylvanian set… 🙂 Ahh~! I just love them all! <3 Having said that, I on the other hand, cannot recall precisely when was the last time I actually played with them… Probably some time during my 8th grade or… even long before that. I still like them, trust me I do and that should be the exact reason why I was thrilled when I saw the SU offered an opportunity to collect toys!

OMG! Count me in! x)

Volunteering group 2014 at the Toy fair

QMUL Volunteering team at the Toy Fair – Barnardos Toy Trolley 2014

At the time, the opportunity was organised by Barnardos with the permission of the Toy fair in Kensington Olympia. Volunteers come in on the last day of the fair and for the last 30 minutes, would take a trolley (sponsored by Tesco) and collect as many toy donations as we could . Sorting out them afterwards, according to size, we would then load them on to truck after truck, sending them to disadvantaged children in need.
But for the whole process of sorting up until loading, we had some fun ourselves admiring the toys we loved. There was a huge giraffe I remembered, tiny shopping trolleys, countless cooking sets and so many dolls! Then there were construction toys, teddy bears, tiny figures, mobile phones, colourful fruit baskets and so much more than I can name. It was like a toy heaven!

Huge Giraffe on top a trolley full of toys!

Huge Giraffe on top a trolley full of toys!

The event took place on 23rd January 2014 and it actually was the first time I volunteered through QMSU Volunteering service. It was the start for a series of all the great opportunities I continued to get involved in later days. Now looking back it felt even greater :’)

Me pushing mini trolley, "nagging" for more toys

Me pushing mini trolley, “nagging” for more toys

January 2015, I looked forward so much to another memorable trip to the wonderful toy-land and my heart sank when days after days checking the website without seeing the opportunity pop up. What could I do if there was no event held altogether.

But I felt the worst when it came back in 2016 and I could not go. This time, organised by Kids Out.

QM Team at KidsOut Toy Trolley 2016 - Olympia

QMUL Team at Toy fair – KidsOut Toy Trolley 2016 – Kensington Olympia

The event crashed with my school schedule but I wanted to go so much that I was considering skipping class… Everyone who went told me the same thing – it was amazing! 🙂 I knew that, I knew that all along. And I’m glad that they had great fun volunteering at the Event as I did 2 years before.

There’s not much to say besides it’s a really really really really nice event that one should definitely consider going (if it doesn’t crash with your classes xD) Take it from me, and from those who were there.

London Marathon 2016- Time to Marshal!

Hi all, I hope revision is going well for you. I thought I’d share my experience of volunteering with QMSU Volunteering at the amazing London Marathon last week- one of my favourite annual events to volunteer or spectate at.

The London Marathon is 26.2 miles and runners pass sights including the National Maritime Museum and One Canada Square, finishing at Buckingham Palace. This year’s was the 36th London Marathon and the millionth participant ran the route too!

Sunday 24th April 2016- the runners’ big day!

It is barely 4°C at 9am when we set off along Mile 19 to choose our places to be stationed at!

It is barely 4°C at 9am when we set off along Mile 19 to choose our places to be stationed at!


At around 7:45am, we had a rundown of the event (pardon the pun) as we’d been briefed on our role as marshals at uni on Friday. At 9am, we walked around to Mile 19 and I chose to be at a crossing point with three other volunteers. With a pair of us on opposite sides of the road, in charge of the crossing, we started cheering on the elite women, followed by the Paralympic athletes and then the elite men. We were directing spectators when they needed assistance. Soon, the masses started approaching us and hundreds of spectators on our road alone, us marshals included, began encouraging thousands of runners!


One of the elite runners approaches our section

One of the elite runners approaches our section on The North Colonnade


The whole day was brilliant. Though my hands were hurting from continuous clapping, icy wind and occasional freezing sheets of rain, I continued applauding the runners- the reactions of some runners when they saw everyone, even if it was just you clapping and calling their name at times, was my fuel!! My voice was going too and the responses of some concerned spectators saying “oh no, you’re going to lose your voice” was heart-warming. Some spectators were even cheering me on for cheering, aha!!!


A marshal portrays just how cold it can be during the London Marathon!

Tried to portray just how cold it was! This expression unfortunately doesn’t look like one of a cold me but a cautious me, aha- it was very cold indeed!!! I used my backpack straps to hold onto my useful event guide and free my hands, ready to applaud.


The great majority of runners were strangers (I did cheer on a colleague, a YouTuber and a former teacher, though) but I still genuinely believe they are ALL CHAMPIONS for running the marathon! Mile 19 can be one of the most gruelling miles. One of my favourite received reactions was people actually speeding up or starting to run when we cheered for them. And my reaction to that? Well, I was thrilled each time and jumped up and down cheering even more excitedly for them as they sprinted past me yelling a “thank you” or smiling from ear to ear at me while I mirrored the smile or laughed!


A wonderful event to marshal- substantiated by my sore and freezing hands at the end of the day and my now-croaky voice in need of a rest!

A wonderful event to marshal- substantiated by my sore and freezing hands at the end of the day and my now-croaky voice in need of a rest!


Well done, one and all, what an accomplishment, what a feat (that one was intentional)!

Be proud of yourselves for completing the London Marathon! A huge congratulations to Eliud Kipchoge who smashed his 2015 course record and Wilson Kipsang’s 2014 course record, setting a new course record for the elite men and to Jemima Sumgong who overcame some horrible falls and even an inconsiderate intruder on the course to win the women’s elite race!


Fact: The first event I can ever remember volunteering at was the 2011 London Marathon. Yes, eesh, half a decade ago!! Thus, volunteering at this year’s marathon marked half a decade of volunteering for me (not at every Marathon event but volunteering in general- 5 years ago is when it all started in volunteering for me)!

Fact: The first event I can remember volunteering at was the 2011 London Marathon. Volunteering at this year’s marathon marked half a decade of volunteering for me (generally, not at every Marathon).

PASS with Flying Colours


I’ve been mentoring with SLLF PASS since I was in my second year and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done while at QM, so I thought I’d PASS on some information about the scheme.

PASS stands for ‘Peer Assisted Study Support’ (and as you’ve seen, facilitates some highly amusing wordplay) and involves trained second year students and above helping first years with questions about assignments, exams, their course or university life in general. We have weekly mentoring sessions which are usually themed around the topics being covered in first year classes at that time. The nature of the sessions varies from one department to another, as do attendance figures.

Some PASS schemes attract scores of students, regularly having 50+ mentees (STEM subjects tend to be very popular), whereas the figures are much lower for the humanities. For Film, we recently held a special ‘Production Skills’ session with a panel of 2nd year students who screened some short films they’d worked on and offered advice on filmmaking – this attracted about 15 students, which I think is the most we’ve ever had. Still, there are advantages to having smaller groups – we can establish a friendly atmosphere and have more time to focus on individual students’ questions.

I think PASS is useful for first years while they’re still adjusting to being at university – it provides a less daunting place for them to come with questions and concerns that they might not want to raise with their personal advisor. It’s reassuring for them to speak to second and third years who’ve survived first year and bought the t-shirt, and it’s also a lot of fun – once the hard work is out of the way, we usually just end up chatting about movies.

It’s not just the mentees who benefit, the mentors get a lot out of it too: the chance to meet new people, gain confidence, attend the annual PASS conference and certificate ceremony, etc. It’s also very gratifying to feel that you’ve been able to help someone; my fellow-mentor Ethan told me that ‘I’ve enjoyed PASS because it gave me an opportunity to help students do better than I did’.

You get more information on PASS here:  http://www.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/schools/wp/qmul-students/index.html

My Life at QMUL

Having been born to Iranian parents in Denmark, I suppose I was bound to be somewhat of a cosmopolitan. Of course this meant that I always had an incessant desire to explore as much as I could from outside my country of birth. My interest in social justice led to an opportunity to become an exchange student in the US, and at the age of 15 I embarked on an experience, which would guide my trajectory towards a career in international politics. I’m currently in the third year of a BA in Politics with Business Management at Queen Mary, aspiring to go on to studying international human rights law. A lot of the afore-mentioned, particularly my parents being refugees, has led me in this direction. Crucially however, it’s the experiences I have had, especially while here at Queen Mary, that helped me on that path.

Besides the generous help received from the Students’Union in my first year when I endeavored to start a magazine venture tackling political apathy (Politics Made Public), the University’s Careers and Enterprise Centre helped me fund the development of ‘favourful’. Favourful, like most of my extra-curricular engagements, has a social purpose to fulfill; in this case, allowing for the exchange of services or favours, for gifts rather than currency. Working on favourful was invaluable, and proved very useful during my participation in the Cambridge Long Vacation Scholarship Scheme this summer.

Although the scholarship is given primarily for the purpose of conducting research towards one’s dissertation, I was eager to get involved with an actual human rights research project at Cambridge University. Having chased up a number of academics persistently, I got involved with an academic project called “The Whistle”, a digital human rights reporting platform, led by Dr. Ella McPherson at the Department of Sociology and the Centre of Governance & Human Rights, in its very early stages. I joined the project as an intern and developed the website thewhistle.org, and helped conduct extensive market research across the digital human rights sphere. Following the conclusion of the scholarship scheme, I was invited to stay on the project as a Research Assistant, and am still working with the project which has now received funding from a significant corporate partner.



University Scholars Leadership Symposium  working on issues such as poverty and refugees

University Scholars Leadership Symposium working on issues such as poverty and refugees



One of the most noticeable things about Queen Mary is the abundance of opportunities, if students choose to get involved. Having served as the Humanities & Social Sciences Faculty Representative in 2014/2015 put me in the fortunate position of being offered to fly to Hong Kong to participate in the University Scholars Leadership Symposium. The symposium gave 1800 students from around the world the opportunity to engage with leaders in the sphere of humanitarian affairs, to work with issues such as poverty and refugees. Crucially, the sheer diversity of nationalities and cultures present gave a truly holistic perspective on the concerns and issues surrounding the topic, as well as a platform to share experiences, which would serve as the cornerstone of potential solutions. I have never been at the center of such international and high profile networking. And yet, all of us could come together in our experience of the depravity we experienced volunteering in Mong Kok. In the aftermath of the symposium, several of the delegates, myself included, maintained our contact with the leaders and peers we had met, and started collaborating with them on various social ventures.



I was in the fortunate position of travelling to Hong Kong to participate in the University Scholars Leadership Symposium

I was in the fortunate position of travelling to Hong Kong to participate in the University Scholars Leadership Symposium



As I look back at my experiences at Queen Mary in the midst of writing applications for US law schools and postgraduate programmes in human rights in the UK, they all culminate in two realizations: The importance of networks, built through getting involved and meeting new and interesting people at university; as well as not being scared of saying yes to an opportunity, however difficult or out of your league it may seem.

The Breakfast Challenge at Whitechapel Mission

Calling early birds and night owls, here’s a Breakfast Challenge for you!

For years, QMSU Volunteer has been working with the Whitechapel Mission, offering students with various amazing volunteering opportunities. One of which is known as the (legendary) Breakfast Challenge.


Full English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast

What is the Breakfast Challenge?

This is a unique volunteering experience I can definitely confirm.

Belonging to the One-day volunteering category, this is the opportunity for Volunteers to help the Whitechapel Mission prep and cook breakfast for the homeless in the area. A full English breakfast is offered on menu, together with other options such as porridge or cereals. No cooking experience required from Volunteers 🙂


What is happening on the date?

Basically, a group of students, ideally 8, will meet up as early as 5:15am on a Sunday and then travel to Whitechapel together, just in time for the 5:45am brief.


A Group of Students Volunteering at the Whitechapel Mission

A Group of Students Volunteering at the Whitechapel Mission (Feb 2014)

Afterwards, each pair will be in charge of a station – hot drink, toast, veg or protein (how I usually address them)

1. Hot drink station – responsible for making hot drinks – coffee, tea or chocolate, on order
2. Toast station – responsible for making buttered toasts, usually prep around 10-15 family loafs
3. Vegetable station will be filling up a huge pot of mushroom and a huge pot of bake beans initially. If you’re in charge of this station for the second phase, remember to stir the whole pot from time to time (gently) to avoid burning!
4. Protein station, my favourite, is responsible for frying sausages, eggs (sunny side up) and oven bake some bacon! (yummm). Me alone on this station may crack up to 70 eggs myself.

The preparation process will continue until 8 o’clock; until then, Volunteers can change stations and try out different tasks.

Once it’s 8 o’clock, only 2-3 volunteers will stay at the Protein station to maintain the flow of hot eggs whereas the rest will join the front line and run the service. Normally, one volunteer can be the cashier, 2-3 can assemble orders and another 2 at the drink station. Also there will be other volunteers remain in the kitchen and prepare porridge or cereals on order. Otherwise, Staff will circulate around to manage the process and provide guidance. Volunteer can also manage the charging station and/or give out toiletries to those in need.

Service will end around 10AM, drinks and food window will be closed after this time. What’s left is just cleaning!

Cleaning process

Cleaning process


Volunteers are expected to be dismissed by 12pm or even earlier than that (if you’re efficient in cleaning :P)


Why did I do the Breakfast Challenge? How do I feel about it?


Why not?
It’s Volunteering! It’s outside uni-time! A chance for me to try something new, to take on a challenge! It’s a perfect one-day opportunity for someone who’s afraid of commitment like I was 🙂 and it’s absolutely meaningful to the community!

I’ve always enjoyed volunteering and besides, I’m an early bird myself, I also love food; interested in meeting new people and especially I like to talk and share (like what I’m doing now – indirectly communicate my experience and opinion to you!).



Funtime with SU President Dola (2013-14) @ the Breakfast Challenge (Oct 2014)


I’ve made new friends, amazing new friends from the Breakfast Challenge; friends from different departments and different countries each and every time I take on the Breakfast Challenge. So far, I have participated in 3 occasions and still find each time fascinating and special in their own way. To me, this is a very unique opportunity that gives me a different perspective of life. If I decide not to participate in this event but to wake up at 9am and stay indoor all day Sunday, I would not be able meet other inspiring volunteers, would not have seen another image of London and its people and almost certainly would not have the chance to do something nice for the community.


Christmas time @ Whitechapel Mission: Staff and Volunteers

Christmas time @ Whitechapel Mission: Staff and Volunteers (Dec 2014)


True, it may be a little hard to leave the bed so early and head out to the dark and the wind; but what you gain is warmth in your heart and even more.


Advice for you

Because I can do it, so can you!
If you’re a night owl and you’re taking that excuse to not waking up and be ready, then think how amazing it would be if you can actually take on the Challenge! Winning double – I would say 🙂 And if you’re an early bird, then here’s a good reminder not to skip Breakfast! It’s the most important meal of the day! Prepare it and share the care!

Although the SU Volunteer only offers the Challenge on a Sunday owing to Students’ timetable, Whitechapel Mission holds this event everyday. Bankers (from Lloyds, Barclays or Deutsche Bank) and people from other organisations take turns to participate. Thus, this means that you can possibly “connect” to them if you’re thinking about a career in Finance (haha). Examine the Calendar once you’re there if you don’t believe me. Otherwise, you can always brag about all the skills you gain through this Challenge in any interview, ranging from initiative, drive, time management, communication, coordination and so on and forth!

And believe it or not, Breakfast Challenge is one of the most popular Volunteering opportunities that students love. There are instances that the event is over-registered so make sure you put your name down fast on qmsu.org/volunteering!

Happy Breakfast

I dare you to take on a Breakfast Challenge!

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