Introducing TOSH Community: The Inara Project

Uplifting Women and Illuminating Communities - read about the Inara Project's Journey towards a fairer society.
  1. What inspired the founding of the Inara Project, and how do you see the organisation contributing to a fairer and more positive society through its work with vulnerable populations?

Inara Project was founded by young women to grant other women like ourselves opportunities that we never had access to throughout our formative years. Having experienced the diversity and empowering opportunities from bigger cities during university, we came back to Dorset feeling a huge disconnect between young women and society and wanted to bridge that gap by empowering them to become strong and skilled pillars of our community. We hope to inspire young women to become active participants and even leaders in the community through creating unique volunteering opportunities which support uplifting services for vulnerable groups.

We believe women are the foundations of society and have so much to give, but most of the time they don’t see it or have never been in environments which nurture their powerful selves. When a woman unlocks their true potential, so too is the potential to change society for the better; their inherent compassionate, empathetic and nurturing nature only amplifies their many other skills and when put to good use, society surely benefits.

  1. Can you discuss some of the ways in which the Inara Project empowers and supports young women in becoming leaders and volunteers, and how this approach has made a difference for those involved?

Many of our founders became the best versions of themselves when they volunteered for other charities or university societies; they gained event management, marketing, communication, fundraising and leadership skills paired with the constant inspiration of putting these skills to the use of helping those in need. We believe these experiences can make the future leaders of our community, however young women in Dorset, especially from muslim backgrounds, are sparsely met with these opportunities.

Our main aim is for the Inara Project to create an environment where women can be trained into being strong leaders in their communities, careers, schools and homes. Our volunteers are encouraged to join, whether they have any experience or not, and are placed in a department which suits their passions and curiosities the most. They are mentored by their department lead and are given a platform to give their input, nurture their ideas and explore what they can offer. We also see our volunteers as our sisters and their welfare is always prioritised with an emphasis on flexibility and sustainability in their efforts.

We have seen many of our volunteers use the skills they’ve gained with us to go onto work with other charities, go into the charity sector in their careers or start their own initiatives. Charlotte, a kitchen volunteer, says “Inara Project showed me how an individual can have an impact on the community and how they can do big things with the right support and facilities.” Most importantly, we’ve seen our volunteers break their own limits and grow substantially. Eram, a remote volunteer based in Leicester, says “Inara Project helped me grow and understand that being a mum does not mean I have to limit myself. I can achieve my goals and help my community.

  1. How does the Inara Project prioritise collaboration and building partnerships with other organisations and within the local community, and what impact has this had on the organisation's ability to create meaningful change?

We know that lights shine brighter when they are together, thus why we champion collaboration with other organisations and those relationships that work best are those built on the same foundations and carry the same values. This is why we’ve had such great success with TOSH/Recreate Dorset/BEAF. The amazing organisers we’ve met know the importance of our mission and share the same goal in bettering the lives of those who struggle to access valued opportunities. Through partnerships like these, we’ve been able to reach farther, provide higher quality services and promote the services of groups who would not normally work with women from our community. Even if Inara Project fades away, we know our service users have created their own relationships with our partner organisations and will continue to be catered for. As our volunteer Jasmine says “It’s a great reminder of what can happen when good people get together with a common interest in achieving a goal and helping people.”

  1. What metrics does the Inara Project use to measure the success of its programmes and services, and how do you ensure that you are meeting the needs of the community you serve?

Our motto at Inara Project is quality over quantity. We don’t believe that success comes from the number of people that walk through our doors, but the positive effect we have on womens’ lives, even if it is one individual. We gather feedback from our service users and volunteers on a regular basis and share this with our team and community to motivate ourselves and keep our intentions pure. With every casual “I’ve enjoyed today's session” or a recipient of our care packages reaching out to us saying how we’ve made her difficult life so much easier - we know we’re heading in the right direction by affecting at least one person's life in a positive way. Through trying to go above and beyond in holistically helping service users, we even had a child of a service user ask why we were so kind to herself and her family, almost confused as to why her family were deserving of help. We hope for our service users to see themselves as valued human beings deserving of all rights and basic kindness, rather than numbers on a scale of a charity’s success.

  1. Looking ahead, what are some of the key goals and initiatives that the Inara Project has in mind for the future, and how can readers get involved and support your work?

Our ultimate aim is to reach more women who are in need of our services or just our company! We hope to expand in different cities, going to where our amazing national volunteers are and spread our light further than Dorset. We plan on bringing back our original community kitchen with more scrumptious recipes and use it to tackle BCP’s growing food insecurity issues. We also plan to celebrate next years Olympics in Inara fashion, and bring sports and fitness to women and girls in the community who cannot find a safe and comfortable space to invest in their bodies and minds. The best way to support our work is to volunteer with us! We are always looking for women who want to use their spare time for the sake of others; everyone has something to give, it’s our passion to discover what you can share with the world and help you amplify it.