50 Years 50 Years, 50 Faces 50 Years, 50 Faces: Melanie Berard Hi, I'm Mel, the Renewal Programme's Volunteer Coordinator. I’m originally from France but I have been working in Newham for the past three years. Before moving to England, I worked in a community centre in my home town, on the French-Italian border, helping local refugees and other members of the community engage with each other through various projects. I have been working for the Renewal Programme since November 2020. I applied for the job because I think there's something really special about community centres. I've also had a soft spot for Newham ever since I moved to London. I find the area full of vibrancy and promises. It's very different from where I come from! My job is to develop volunteering at the Renewal Programme. I'm really invested in my work because I strongly believe in the importance of empowering individuals to support their community through volunteering. There's so many things I like about my job! I really enjoy supporting members of staff so they see the benefits in working with volunteers. I like working with our different projects to figure out how to make volunteering work in various contexts. I like meeting new people who want to volunteer, get involved, share and gain new skills, make connections, give back to their community in so many ways. What I love the most is when service users, who have often gone through a lot of challenges, get to the point where they are ready to volunteer and support others. For me the Renewal Programme is a place that I see has already come so far in empowering individuals for a stronger community. When I was working in my little home town, I used to dream that we'd someday get to this point, to this level of diversity and service user engagement. There's still so much we can do here but it feels very promising to me.