Ashish is a central committee member of the Kera Kundanpur Youth Wing (UK): a highly successful youth club, which has recently evolved into an official charity due to the organisation’s exceptional work. “We have gone from strength to strength, and just continued to grow,” the young leader told us. First established in 1994, the charity, which is based in Stanmore at The Aspire Centre in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, has “enjoyed an incredible influx of community members as the years have gone by.”
Engaging British-Asian youngsters with diverse skillets and dreams, the thriving club offers a wide range of sports, from badminton and football to swimming and cricket to help create well-rounded individuals, who also uphold the value of community. “We develop both valuable interpersonal skills and offer talented youth the opportunity to achieve educational merits to enhance their CVs.” An outstanding Kera Kundanpur alumnus has been Akshay Hirani who went on to play Middlesex County Cricket.
The charity is dedicated to bringing “young stars of the community in the UK together.” Their typical social activities have included organising charitable work such as midnight walks for St Luke’s Hospice, where Kera Kundanpur members have been marshals, tea parties for Macmillan Cancer Support, and pragmatic help during the festive period. “Having young people work together in an interesting, unusual way inspires their friends to want to join and become involved too: the aim has been to increase the size of our group where everyone is enjoying what they do.” Members are encouraged to view charitable work as an organic part of life, and “not a chore.” This has culminated in the Kera Kundanpur Youth Wing’s partnership with bigger charities to raise money through bigger projects. “We are professional fundraisers with a lot of experience by now, and it’s been great to have the platform that becoming a registered charity has given us. We can do great work, and allow our youth to develop themselves and have the opportunity to more deeply realise their potential too.”
The charity has achieved an incredible trek to the Everest base camp, raising £26,000, with 24 youthful trekkers for big charities such as St. Luke’s Hospice, and an educational children’s charity in Nepal as well as raising the funds to help maintain the growing Kera Kundanpur Youth Wing itself. “The youngsters learn so many relational skills, including team-building, self-esteem and time management.” Wonderfully, Ashish has benefitted from the youth club himself, having attended when he was growing up. “The club helped me become very open-minded, and to not take my life for granted. As well as building confidence, you witness different people, overcoming challenges in different ways.” Now, being able to take the Kera Kundanpur youth abroad has, no doubt, only broadened the empathetic horizon.
Indeed, Ashish is currently a rising medical professional who works as cardiac physiologist. “It’s great to give back to the place that has influenced my career and grown me over the years. It has made me into the stronger person that I am.” The aid organization openly welcomes a wide range of members from the Indian community, catering for disabled candidates too. “We strongly promote integration: we want our message to be that everyone is capable and able to live a fuller life. There is much more to becoming an adult than getting a job and just paying the bills.” And so, having grown from a small community in the nineties into the collective cornerstone it has come to be today, the Kera Kundanpur Youth Wing refreshingly emphasises the virtues of connection and altruism for a brighter of the society, and not simply a usual focus on self- aggrandising and hubris. True poise is, after all, the ability to accept others while valuing the self.
Tell us more about the venue at which the youth club charity meets?
It is at the Aspire centre which is one of the few centres to incorporate a swimming pool, gymnasium and sports hall. We are very well-equipped, accommodating for our disabled members too as mentioned.
As well as providing a better charitable platform for the youth club, how else has being an official charity helped boost your work?
We can have a true trademark, establishing ourselves socially. It also helps our visibility so that other charities can approach us to work together too, which in turn builds credibility.
Have you completed any other big projects recently?
Yes, we did an international book collection drive with charities including MZ foundation, Hope for Smile and Shishukunh (UK). We collated over 200,000 educational books to send to India and Kenya for underprivileged children in those countries. It was driven by the youth’s voluntary work, delivering, packing and collecting the books to send out.
Finally, what are your plans for the future with Kera Kundanpur Youth Wing (UK)?
Focussing on expanding the charitable endeavours, and our youth drive. We are still a small fish in a big pond, and hope to take on bigger projects and only to grow now that we are a unique charity.
"Having young people work together in an interesting, unusual way inspires their friends to want to join and become involved too”
"We collated over 200,000 educational books to send to India and Kenya for underprivileged children in those countries"