Profiles: Ruth Burgess

Profiles: Ruth Burgess

Who are you/what do you do for Near Neighbours?

I’m Ruth Burgess, I am the Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator. I cover Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell.


Why do you love working for Near Neighbours?

It’s like no job I’ve ever had. I get to meet so many wonderful people from every walk of life. I feel privileged that I have the opportunity to do this. It’s also an incredibly positive job, I work with people who are motivated through their faith to help others and want to make a difference to their community.


What is your favourite memory from working at Near Neighbours?

I haven’t been in the job long but there are so many already. Being on the Sikh Channel to talk about Near Neighbours was exciting, I have never been on live TV before but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I get invited to a lot of community events and often take my children along so have a lot of fun memories of being able to share in celebrations with different faith and community groups. Highlights have included Interfaith Carol singing in Caldmore and a Christmas celebration for the local community at the Sant Nirankari Oneness Centre in Wednesbury.


What are your hopes for Near Neighbours?

I think Near Neighbours does really important work and my hope is that it will grow and we will be able to incorporate more areas into our work. My experience is that many people want the opportunity to learn about and get to know people in their community who are of a different faith or ethnic background. Near Neighbours provides people with the tools and resources to help make this happen.


Do you think Near Neighbours is making an impact, if so, in what way?

Yes I do! I have spent time visiting some of our funded projects recently and learning about the positive impact Near Neighbours has. Not only are people building relationships with people different from themselves they are also often learning new skills and improving their personal circumstances. An example of this is a cake decorating course funded by Near Neighbours. The course brought together women of Bengali background and white British women who although they had children at the same school didn’t often mix. Through the course barriers were broke down and people had fun learning a new skill. One participant shared with me that because of the course she now had the confidence to go back to college and complete her formal training in cake decoration. 

Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones

Date: 05 May 2015