How Mahnur’s making Sunderland connect

Mahnurret (Large)

Young Asian Voices (YAV) is a multicultural youth and community project. It works for equal opportunities regardless of race, gender, economic background, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.

Mahnur Roushan, Operations & Services Coordinator at YAV, gets an overwhelming sense of fulfilment from the work she’s involved in. “It’s challenging”, says Mahnur, “but at the same time, stimulating and rewarding”. The multicultural youth and community project was set up in 1996, initially to address the lack of provision for young people from BAME communities in Sunderland. It is now a fully inclusive service working with diverse ethnicities including French, Polish and British, as well as young refugees housed in Sunderland.


Opportunities to shine

With many different arts and cultural attractions, Sunderland is a city brimming with creative opportunities. There’s a thriving music scene, world-class theatre, art exhibitions, stand-up comedy, ballet, there’s always something exciting to experience.

The aim of YAV is to provide a trusted platform for people to explore their talents, whether that’s through arts and culture, sport, youth work, performance, or training and volunteering. As Mahnur says, “More young people and communities have found it comfortable to engage with arts and culture, more people are digital-comfortable, more emerging artists and performers from minority communities shone bright and accessed support and opportunities.”


“The smiles of the children and achievements of the community fill me with joy and pride.”


Transforming lives

As a former client of the project herself, Mahnur knows first-hand how transformative YAV can be for people who come from vulnerable experiences. “YAV took me in as a volunteer”, says Mahnur, “it was a springboard to progression and they supported me in integrating with the community and re-exploring my career path to start from scratch.” For many people, community projects like these are often the only lifeline available to them. Just ‘being there’ can have a remarkable effect on people’s physical, social, and emotional well-being.

As Mahnur discovered, volunteering is not only good for the community, there are lots of personal benefits too. Things like making new friends, keeping your mind and body active, learning new skills, improving your health and well-being, and gaining a sense of belonging. And there are many different volunteering opportunities available in Sunderland.

Celebrating Sunderland together

Helping to make Sunderland a vibrant, welcoming place with opportunities for everyone is a big part of what the YAV project is about. They’re committed to tackling inequality and under-representation, while celebrating the city’s wonderful diversity, history, and creativity. As Mahnur says, “The work has given me, and so many other people, a better understanding of the different cultures, and a real sense of purpose to live, grow and progress in Sunderland.”


If you’re interested in what YAV can offer, or would like to volunteer your time, education and skills, visit

Feeling inspired?

Take it further with these related pages and websites:


Learn more and get involved with the YAV project.

Discover other volunteering opportunities in Sunderland.

Explore Sunderland’s thriving arts and cultural attractions.

Read about the exciting Culture House development.