Hi, my name’s Eliza and I’m 23-years-old from London.
A couple of years ago, I was studying for my fashion design degree but during my placement year I had to have a couple of eye surgeries. It’s a corneal issue which can’t be fixed sadly, only prevented. Not nice at all!
At the time, I felt quite down so was looking for something which had a purpose, was still clothes related and would be fun to do after surgery whilst I waited to go back to University.
In walked Little Village!
I was only 21 when I started volunteering at the Roehampton baby bank and from day one it was just wonderful. In fact, I had a very random experience on my first day…the moment I walked in I found my childhood best friend’s mum working there! Me and my friend are now back in touch and see each other regularly which has been brilliant!
I’m not very good at doing nothing so this offered a real period of relief for me. After the second surgery I felt quite down so felt that I had to do something.
When I first started volunteering, I didn’t expect to be in the same room as the families. It was amazing to get to see the difference we were making and to hear a mum who was really struggling want to give back, even when she wasn’t able to.
I decided to volunteer at Little Village as I wanted to help people, but I quickly realised it was helping me as much as it was helping the families we were supporting because they inspired me every day.
It was so easy to get involved too. From day one I was able to get stuck in sorting out the new donations. Given my love of fashion I loved checking the quality and taking real care in creating the special bundles for families.
What I really loved was making the bundles. We’d always try and make sure we’d match clothes and really personalise items based on the referral forms we’d receive. So, if a mum said her daughter loved sequins, we’d search through the boxes to try and find something, or if someone wanted gender neutral clothes, we’d find something that was perfect for them. All the care was taken to try and build the child a wardrobe they’d really love. It’s not something I expected a charity like this to do.
Even when the clothes were all packaged up and ready to go, I loved that extra touch of putting string on the bundles and putting handwritten notes in for the families. There’s so much care and attention at Little Village which comes together in such a lovely way.
As I said before, I was lucky enough to meet some amazing families. One mum in particular really sticks in my head. She was having a tough time and had just gone through a bundle and wanted to swap something. We chatted for quite a bit and I helped her find something else that would be perfect. The mum spoke about how grateful she was and I was so shocked when she said if it hadn’t been for the support of Little Village, she was desperately worried that her children would be taken into care. She said that when her children were at full-time school she wanted to come back and volunteer herself to help others in the position she found herself in. It was really touching.
Clothing is a basic human right which we all deserve to have, just like food and water. It’s incredibly unfair that people come into the world with nothing because of bad luck or difficult times. Childhood is so formative. Every child deserves to have the same experience and have comfy, warm clothes and chose a toy or two that they like.
If you’re looking to volunteer and you want to see the real difference you’ve made, Little Village is an amazing way to feel connected to the people you’re helping. You get to see real impact of your work and everyone at Little Village was just so lovely and welcoming. I loved every minute.
Keep your eyes out for Eliza on the red carpets of Paris as she one day hope to get a job in fashion in the fashion capital of the world! Good luck and thank you Eliza.