Parents go on holiday = free house = house party. Seems like every child’s dream right? Well that’s exactly what we did while my parents were away in India last month. We cleared our furniture away, hit the super market and invited 45 young people over to our house for a house party.

However, this was not the usual house party one would expect a group of young people to throw. Our house party was one with no alcohol, a three course vegetarian meal and most importantly, its focus was to inspire the youth to engage in charitable giving.

Before we delve into the details let me give you some background. We are a group of young people with normal jobs looking to make a difference, and together we form the Hemraj Goyal Foundation youth team. When planning our flagship event of the year we knew we wanted to do something different but didn’t know where to start. During a brainstorming session I remembered a conversation I’d had with my Dad about how he wanted to invite speakers to our home and have gatherings for people to attend. Like many ideas we have on a day to day basis, no one had taken any action and it was put on the back burner. I wanted to bring the event to life and I put his concept forward to my team.  From there we decided that our flagship event would be called “charity begins at home”.

We all worked together to decide on a menu, entertainment and put together invites. We then reached out to our network of friends to encourage them to buck the trend and spend their Saturday night doing something a little different.

After weeks of planning, the evening of 10 September 2016 came around very quickly and we were all excited to serve our guests and welcome them into our home. They enjoyed a canape reception in the foyer and then made their way into our lounge where the remainder of the evening continued. We had transformed our lounge using round tables which were decorated with delicious homemade cupcake centrepieces. There was a lovely sit down meal prepared by our experienced chef Brian Lane, who kindly volunteered his weekend to ensure that we served high quality food to our guests.

We warmed up the crowd with a sharing session where we were blown away with the acts of kindness that our audience was carrying out already. Our youngest guest of 13 years old shared about how she took a stand for a trans-gender friend in her class, and another girl spoke about her work to improve social policy.

We were also blessed to have two inspirational speakers, Arifa Nasim and Hibo Wardere who both left our audience feeling grateful and motivated to make a difference themselves. Arifa spoke about her campaign against forced marriages which she initiated after reading Daughters of Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera. Hibo spoke about her journey from Somalia to the UK and the work she has carried out to understand FGM, along with how she dealt with the distressing consequences of cutting in her own life.

We wanted to capture the positive energy that had been created that evening and so we asked everyone to write down a promise that they would put into action when they go back home. We look forward to catching up with how our guests are getting along with their promises and hearing about the impact they have made to the wider world!