Hackney CVS Youth Leader

Alex Ingrey, a Hackney CVS Youth Leader, on learning new things and changing career

What was your situation when you came to Hackney CVS first time?

I was 20 years old and was doing catering and bar jobs. I didn’t have much direction at that point. Then I joined the TalentMatch programme at Hackney CVS. In the role ofYoung Leader I was doing workshops with young people or helping out in youth clubs. We were paid for the work we did which was great because it taught me to respect my time.

Working with Hackney CVS gave me greater perspective on the diverse communities in Hackney and some of the struggles people go through. I also gained self-worth and realised I was much more capable than I originally thought. Being involved in TalentMatch opened my eyes to possibilities which I could potentially use to progress. I was no longer in this catering jobs box, I knew I could do something else and there are many other things I’m interested in and could be successful at.

What do you do now?

I work with a mental health charity called Advocacy Project. I work with them on a part time basis as a mentor to people who have mental health issues. I also engage with community meetings around mental health topics. Recently I got a job as an external consultant working alongside TSIP (The Social Innovation Partnership) and the Shoreditch Trust. They are trying to build a civil innovation hub and my role with them is Community Engagement Officer. I’m gathering information about how people would see this kind of institution we are trying to build and what their opinions are.

What made you change your career?

Catering is very physically and emotionally draining and it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue. When I first came to Hackney CVS I was still doing chef work but I quickly realised I’m interested in mental health. It has always been a topic I cared about because of my own lived experience. Seeing that others are going through the same problems as I was dealing with humbled me and I started to get involved in projects around mental health. I’m also interested in psychology and read a lot about it.

I was born and raised in Hackney, it’s my community and I care about it a lot. We’ve seen many changes in the borough – it’s very prosperous for some but unfortunately not for everyone. I’d like to see a common change where everyone can prosper together.

What advice can you give to young people?

I’d say there is enough time to do different things. You don’t have to rush yourself but it’s good to have long term plans because everything is possible to achieve. Now I plan to do a kayaking coach training because I love kayaking and I know I want to gain a psychology degree at some point. I’d also say don’t be afraid to broaden your horizon, consider things you might have not considered before, there are loads of things to do, there are new industries being born every day. Don’t be too closed minded and put yourself in a box. Take your time, it’s rather a slow scenic walk than a race to a finish.

“I was born and raised in Hackney, it’s my community and I care about it a lot.”

Alex Ingrey