Eastside Young Leaders Academy at the Mega Maker Lab

August 2019 saw the launch of the Institute of Imagination’s Mega Maker Lab; a month of activities in our Lambeth Imagination Lab space designed to help children explore, play, build and imagine. This would not have been possible without the support of our fantastic volunteering team including those from the Eastside Young Leaders Academy; an organisation that runs inspiring programmes to nurture the leadership potential and well-being of young people, and in particular, empowering those from a BAME background to become successful leaders in their future careers.

Volunteering at the Mega Maker Lab provided the young people involved with the opportunity to learn about engaging with children, events management, workshop facilitation and community outreach. Four EYLA members volunteered for 39 days at Mega Maker Lab, totalling an average of 78 hours each and 312 hours in total over 39 days.

We were delighted with the EYLA volunteers’ determination and collaborative effort to get stuck into all our activities with the children. These involved wire sculpting, junk-model making and testing, tool use, creative engineering, newspaper STIXX sculpture construction and LEGO model building. Additionally, they undertook ticketing, welcoming and signing in visitors, surveying and giving experience feedback, as well as setting up and taking down activities at the start and end of the day, making sure we were ready for the next day of activities. This gave them the unique opportunity to build their confidence in creative problem solving, their building and making skills, as well as professional events work experience. The tasks required volunteers to use their initiative as well as build their pedagogical abilities by supporting playful events and activities and helping to make sure the event run smoothly.


“Working with our EYLA volunteers has been an absolute joy. They have been such a valuable addition to our Mega Maker Lab volunteer team. As the Mega Maker Lab Volunteer Coordinator, I have enjoyed watching them embrace all the challenges that come with a large-scale event such as Mega Maker Lab. We are very grateful for all the hours and enthusiasm our EYLA volunteers put in to MML this August.” Ruby, Volunteer Duty Manager

We seek to work with organisations like EYLA in a truly collaborative way, providing young people who volunteer with us with the chance to develop personally and professionally through meaningful experiences which in turn provide tangible benefits for the children and families they have worked with.

One of our volunteers was particularly interested in front of house and saw herself working in that kind of role in the future. When she expressed this our Volunteer Duty Manager was able to shift the rota, so that she got experience of check-in, working the till, shop sales, ticketing and greeting visitors on their arrival. She also wanted to try out collecting our audience survey feedback and went above and beyond in collecting 30 questionnaires in one afternoon!

We are incredibly pleased to have received resoundingly positive feedback from volunteers as well as our Volunteer Duty Manager about the EYLA experience at Mega Maker Lab. This feedback embodies what we are trying to achieve with our volunteering programme: a positive feedback loop of benefits for volunteers, families and the institute of imagination as a whole. Community engagement helps to bring our events to life, and we could not do it without our volunteers. 

“A huge thank you to you and your team for giving our Young Leaders such an amazing opportunity this summer. They had a great time and learned so much about the world of work.” Ray Lewis, Eastside Young Leaders Academy Board Director.