Valerie Bossman-Quarshie (Highbury Vale Blackstock Trust Trustee)

My name is Valerie Bossman-Quarshie and I am a Trustee of Highbury Vale Blackstock Trust, the charity that owns and manages Elizabeth House Community Centre, which provides various services to the local community. I have been both a user and a provider of some of the services provided at the centre. I used the centre during the school holidays for my young family who enjoyed the various amazing holistic activities, as well as made a great emotional attachment with the fantastic key workers at the Centre. In addition, before becoming a part of the board of Trustees, I volunteered to run interactive workshops which provided educational workshops, to encourage the children/young people and their families to make drug and alcohol free choices.

The Elizabeth House community outreach extends throughout the ward of Highbury West and beyond, and most recently the centre played an active role in emergency response and in supporting the mutual aid networks. Elizabeth House was central to providing great opportunities for the many volunteering residents/neighbours who stepped up to serve the community during the first outbreak of Covid_19 and the first UK lockdown. I coincidentally bumped into the manager locally, who informed me that deliveries of food parcels were going to be distributed from Elizabeth House. Thereafter, from 4 volunteers in week one, we then became at least 10 people minimum volunteering to deliver cooked meals, perishable and fresh food produce.

Often, I would walk past Elizabeth House and speak to the Manager, Nathalie Renaud, we often spoke about the importance of diversity, inclusion and representation within a workforce. She has been such an instrumental support network for me as a user of the services at Elizabeth House. Most recently, I had worked with a young person who tested positive a day later with Covid_19 and I had to self-isolate. The first person I called was Nathalie. She truly is the bedrock of Highbury West and a brilliant community champion.

It was inevitable that I would join the Trustee team. I am someone who really feels very much connected to the community and at the heart of that community is Elizabeth House. My main role has been to always give my ideas and ensure that there is a good representation at the table when decisions are being made. My community campaigning experiences, enthusiastic energy has enabled me to use my skills set of organising and building networks. I truly feel that Elizabeth House board of trustees are an amazing bunch! They are such a supportive Board of Trustees; they have made me feel welcomed and very much a part of the process to make my community great!

As an end note, I would like to tell anyone out there contemplating to become a Trustee… please go for it as we all have so much to give and it is all the small things we do that will give others the confidence and belief for a brighter society and a beautiful, better world.