What we do Near Neighbours Ruth Burgess Who are you and what do you do for Near Neighbours? I’m Ruth Burgess the Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator, I work across Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley. What have you done in the past? I started my career in the world of youth work and completed a degree in Youth Work and Ministry back in 2004. My original plan was to become a church based youth minister but through different placement opportunities I started gravitating more towards the voluntary sector. After graduating I started working for The Children’s Society in London and was privileged enough to be involved in a number of different projects including advocacy and youth development work. Why did you want to work for Near Neighbours? Over time I have become increasingly interested in how faith can motivate individuals to proactively engage with their neighbours and communities. Living in a multi faith area gave me many opportunities to get involved in interfaith work professionally and personally. It taught me a lot about what people can achieve across different faiths and ethnicities. From there, Near Neighbours seemed an obvious choice. Why do you love the area you work in? Last year my family and I started thinking about leaving London and, due to family ties, thought the West Midlands would be the perfect place to go. This has proven to be correct and we feel very welcomed and at home. Starting the Near Neighbours job has been fantastic. I get to work and meet people every day who want to make a difference and stand side by side with others in their community in order to do this.