At Venn Group, we celebrate and support the careers of our employees along with their interests and passions. #peopleonpurpose defines this celebration; our teams work with collective intent and individuals are encouraged to explore their own purpose both within and beyond the office. It’s the combination and recognition of these differences that creates our effective and market-leading teams.
Opelo Kgari, a member of the Business Services Administration team in our Midlands office, became involved in supporting the youth work at her local church when she moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 2010. As part of her role, she regularly mentors young people alongside delivering talks, facilitating discussion, and providing space for the group to play games and get to know one another.
‘A lot of the 13 to 18 year olds that come to the youth group on Sunday nights are from diverse backgrounds; it’s important for the kids to have the opportunity to mingle with others who have different experiences and that we have intentional conversations about what’s happening in the world.’ Having been a member of youth groups before taking on a leadership role, Opelo has experienced first-hand the benefits the groups provide and hopes to pass on what she learned: ‘I share my life experiences and they share theirs; together we can navigate life and face the difficulties as they come.’
The increased awareness of social issues over the past two years has provided several opportunities for Opelo to open up conversations with members of the group. ‘I’ve always had a passion for diversity and matters such as immigration in the UK. The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked a lot of interest among the young people; kids have been asking questions they’ve not felt able to ask at school or home, but they ask me because they know I’m a person they can trust. We’ve had several kids going off to study History or Politics at university because of their curiosity about what’s been going on and wanting to know more about how the world works.
‘It’s been a privilege to play an instrumental role for so many who haven’t had anyone else to look to. It’s also a great way to break up the week and not be an adult for a few hours! I think it’s good for the young people to see an adult just having fun, and I hope I can be an inspiration to them.’
Alongside her youth work, Opelo has been volunteering at the Night Church charity for the past ten years, providing a safe space for clubbers on Friday nights. ‘Night Church is a warm drop-in lounge in the city centre where we offer hot drinks, bottled water, and usually cake – because we’re always celebrating life! We often come across people who don’t really want to be out clubbing, so we can provide a relaxed social space for them. Other times people come along who have been kicked out of a club for being too drunk, so we help them to sit down, sober up, and call a taxi to make sure they get home safely.
‘We do try to share our faith in everything we do, as it’s the reason behind all of our work; the heart of Night Church is prayer, community and mission.’ Over the past ten years, Opelo and her team have seen positive changes in a lot of people who have regularly visited their city centre lounge: ‘Some people have shared with us how they no longer drink alcohol or take drugs, which has turned their lives around. Others have told us about getting into university or starting a new job. It’s amazing to hear how small conversations we’ve had have meant so much to someone.’
‘Since being at Venn Group, talking to different people around the office has helped me to become a lot more confident when I’m engaging with others at the youth group and Night Church. Working as part of the Business Services team, in the same way as being part of a church community, forces you to go out and talk to people you wouldn’t ordinarily speak to. It’s given me a confidence boost and helped me to realise, I can do this! I can relate to people by asking questions, trying to understand where they’re at and how I can help them.'
We are proud of the work Opelo does and her active involvement to bring about positive changes in the lives of others. Her volunteering in the community exemplifies the vision behind #peopleonpurpose