23 November 2018

Our November Member Spotlight features the work of Canaan Project based in Tower Hamlets. Canaan Project offers opportunities and supports the marginalised young women to enable them to overcome the barriers that exclude them and to see them thrive. We speak to Annie Edwards, the project manager, about Canaan’s current projects, future plans and her passion for youth work.

Q: What programmes do you run at Canaan Project?

A: Canaan Project has been involved in City Leaders, Development Fund, and has achieved Bronze Quality Mark

Q: How many young people do you work with?

A: We are working with up to 300 young women a year.

Q: How did you get into youth work?

A: I [Annie] sort of fell into youth work – I had always been involved in bits and pieces through my church, but it was only once I’d graduated from university I was faced with the crisis of not knowing what on earth I was going to do with my life. The combination of being an adamant feminist and having studied theology at university, I wanted to use my Christian faith for good. So, when I saw the job advert to work at Canaan Project as a Young Women’s Worker it seemed to be the perfect fit. Now 2 years on, I’m still loving the work we do and am now officially a qualified youth worker!

Q: How does London inspire you?

A: London inspires me because everyone is different, but everyone has a place. It seems to be one of the only places in the country right now where you can be who you are, without having to worry so much about what other people think. I’m not sure if this counts as inspiration… but London just seems to have an overwhelming amount of good brownies to choose from, so since working for Canaan Project, I can safely say exploring the menus of different cafes has definitely been a highlight for me.

Q: What is best about doing what you do?

A: The best thing, hands down, has to be the young women – they come out with some of the wittiest, bravest, and craziest things (sometimes all at the same time!), and I genuinely consider it to be a privilege to work with them and journey with them as they muddle their way through life.

Q: What is worst about doing what you do?

A: The worst bit about what we do is probably when a crisis happens and a huge safeguarding issue arises. It’s a not-so-gentle reminder that the work we do is fun, but it also comes with a sadness that life isn’t perfect and at times can be quite painful. It does, however, mean that we can be a part of finding solutions and support, and again, I think I speak for the whole team when I say that it’s a privilege to be able to be a part of this protecting process.

Q: What’s been most exciting this year?

A: This year marks our first full year of working across three sites in Bethnal Green – 2 schools and a local estate. We have worked with 372 young women across these three sites, and it has been crazy exciting to see our work growing and impacting more young women in the area.

Q: What’s your next big project?

A: Hmm… you’ll have to see!

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer young Londoners?

A: Be yourself. Love yourself – and if that’s tricky, find the right people who can help you to do those things.

You can follow Canaan Project on Twitter.

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