Archive for the ‘Participation’ Category

Life as a Fundraising Intern – Week One

The day I had been waiting for had finally arrived. Filled with a mixture of anticipation and excitement, I made my way to the entrance of the building that has become the heart and home for many of the staff and students working in and visiting Action For Kids. For those who are a little less familiar with the organisation, Action For Kids is a North-London based charity; established in 1991. From its humble beginnings, the charity has flourished over many years and now occupies Ability House in Tottenham, providing an array of much needed emotional and practical support to the families, children and young people whose lives are affected by a disability; from all walks of life.

The joy of Action For Kids

Having finished University four months ago, I felt particularly nervous at the prospect of embarking upon a new chapter within my life, as it was so different to the routine I had become accustomed to in recent years; attending lectures and accumulating my knowledge from textbooks. Now, the time had come to gain life experience. Whilst I was sat waiting to be collected for my interview for the position of Fundraising Intern, I began chatting to an extremely out-going, bubbly and funny receptionist, and immediately I was struck with the realisation of what made Action For Kids such a unique charity; the passion for the cause and friendliness of all who were present could be felt as tangibly as my heart-beat could be felt in my ears. Suddenly, I no longer felt nervous, instead feeling like a part of the family, which is an amazingly refreshing experience in a world that is becoming increasingly individualistic.

Warmth emanates from the family atmosphere of Action For Kids

I can honestly say, having been part of the team for my first week, I already feel welcomed and completely at home, which is a rare feeling when you have been part of an organisation for such a short space of time. The opportunity to learn new things and grow as a person is an invaluable experience in life and one that I have already benefitted from, and certainly hope to continue to benefit from throughout my time working at Action For Kids.

There are many opportunities for Action For Kids young people


On an interesting trip to Parliament then off to the nearest Macdonalds we went

Colin (the participation officer) who runs the young people’s forum asked me if I would like to come with him on a trip to parliament on Thursday. At first I had to consider the possibility that I couldn’t go because I was going to work at the supermarket between 4pm and midnight that day, however fortunately the schedule for the trip planned to arrive at the AFK building before 2:30pm this allowed me plenty of time to get to my other job so yes for me the trip was on.

On that Thursday morning I had to be at the A.F.K building at 9 o’clock in the morning (half an hour earlier then when I usually have to be there) this wasn’t easy considering the previous day Wednesday I had my usual over 12 hour working day routine of which consisted of me getting out of bed at 8:30am to arrive at A.F.K at 9:30am to do 4 and a half hours of continuous raffle inputting but to be fair during this I am allowed to go out for fresh air briefly in order to stop myself falling asleep. Then at 2pm I get on my Bike and ride home which takes luckily only 5-10 min as I don’t live far from A.F.K eat my Lunch and make my way to the supermarket which takes at least 40min as it is over 2 miles further away than A.F.K but since I get the freedom pass so travel is free and I get the inner London premium so it’s ok. I arrive there at 4pm to stand at a self scan checkout to state the obvious to some idiots and make sure the customers transactions go though smoothly around 7pm-7:30pm I get a half hour break where I grab something to eat then it’s another 4 or more hours on a normal till mostly in the second half of my shift when the real loony tunes tend to make an appearance this can be entertaining when thinking back about it but usually less funny at the time. Then at midnight I finally get to go home and get one of the last tubes. Then when I arrive home I have my dinner and finally get to sleep at well past 1am. So I’m used to a lie-in on a Thursday rather than getting up half an hour earlier than the day before but despite all that I was quite excited.

Our local station

I managed to get there around 9:05am I saw there was only one minibus in the driveway at first I thought the minibus might have gone without me however when I went inside the A.F.K building Colin was there and so was carol chuck (the work related Learning supervisor) and Hisba (a present student) and Faisal (another present student). Colin asked me if I knew where I was going so I replied “houses of parliament “so he asked if I knew how to get there and I said vaguely as I remembered it from before he then handed me a print out from (a website for planning your public transport routes around London) and told me to lead the way. The journey started with a walk to Hornsey BR train.

At the station I saw the train coming in the opposite direction on the other platform before 9:30 and said that I thought my aspie Work colleague Ben would be arriving on this train and just as I predicted me and Colin both saw him but he couldn’t see us as he was facing away from us walking towards the exit to get to the A.F.K building.

On the underground

Next came our train but despite it being past rush hour it was rather crowded and we were standing all way squeezed in the train like sardines. We got off at Highbury and Islington station to get the Victoria line and had the same conditions there. We swapped at Green Park for the jubilee line where we all actually got seats but it was only for one stop. Once we arrived at houses of parliament I saw a load of bikes parked there so I said “I wonder how many M.P’s cycle to work” so Colin said he didn’t think any M.P’s would have got to work yet as it was before 10. We went to meet and had a group photo with a couple of people from Burson Marsteller (a P.R company) who kindly arranged this trip for us using their connections from doing the P.R for the Labour party.

When we started to enter the building we had to get through security. There we had to be searched and put through an airport style x-ray machine with a load of police officers to walk us through it. Once we all got past that, a second group photo was taken and the first part of the houses of parliament we waited in was Westminster Abby, this room that looked like a big church with stain glass windows. I remember one of us pronouncing Hisba’s name as whisper and Colin said to one of the Burson marsteller people “Hisba usually has only one volume level a lot loader then that.” I found that funny only Hisba laughed but seemed to object at the same time.

Our tour guide then arrived to begin walking us though the tour. He was an old Man called Kevin though he was quite humorous this made the tour quite amusing. He showed us the route the queen takes when opening parliament and also showed us queen Victoria’s old throne with a cushion under it for her feet as she was too short for her feet to reach the ground. he asked where in north London we were from as he said he remembered taking a group of school kids from Tottenham around on this tour recently where one of the girls commented on the gold the queen wears to open parliament by saying that it was one serious piece of bling. He showed us to the House of Lords first where there were red seats that you had to be rich to sit in I.E buy a peerage off the current M.P’s or make a few million pound donation to the political party who are in power. When we first entered the House of Lords Hisba said “This is a court” I laughed a little and said “No its not it’s The house of Lords” the guide said “well you’re both Right actually as this used to be the Highest court in the land” he showed us where the dock used to be for the defendant to stand, I asked him if they had cells there for the defendants he said yes they do. I think they now probably use them for anyone caught with anything incriminating by the many police officers who searched us on the way in.

We were then through the corridor where there are statues of ex prime ministers including Margret Thatcher and no statue of tony Blaire but the guide told us that some people say he should have one because he was the longest ever serving prime Minister. He then took us through a corridor leading to the house of commons where the guide talked about King Charles once hearing about one of the M.P’s 350 odd years ago saying that he shouldn’t have as many powers as he does and 4 others agreed with him and he burst in with his army demanding to know who said this and they all refused to tell him and it led to a civil war where he was beheaded and due to those previous actions the queen was not allowed in the house of commons. One of those people to lead the parliamentary coup against the King was Oliver Cromwell who was probably one the biggest party poopers in history who banned Christmas, theatres and pie (and would most likely have banned chart music, T.V and computer games if they had of been invented back then) was to be the one that took over from the king. After hearing that I thought well then he can’t have been a good king if people preferred someone like Cromwell in power to the likes of him.

The guide then took us into the House of Commons full of green seats that you had to be popular to sit in meaning you had to have a 100,000 odd people in your area like you enough to want to vote for you. The guide told us about how M.P’s had a corridor to walk down on one side for yes and one on the other side for no when they were voting on a new law and whichever corridor had the most M.P’s standing in it decided whether that new law got passed or not. He told me there was a bell that rang for when this happened and the bell also rang at 2 local pubs as well as the building in case the M.P’s where out drinking at the time. He also talked about how the black rods would bang on the door to the House of Commons when the queen was there and how she even got the door slammed in her face. I can’t imagine anywhere else where her majesty would receive this kind of welcome.

The guide showed us to a room where there was pictures of napoleon getting defeated by the English army many years ago and how this room was used for the hospitality of important foreign guests and how the pictures had to be covered when the room was being used for this as one time a French president was offended by this picture.

After showing us pictures of King Henry the 8th and his several wives and how he founded the Church of England because the Catholic Church refused to let him marry a 3rd or 4th time. As well as telling the story of Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up houses of parliament with king James in it and he recited a few rhymes like remember remember the 5th of November saying he was a member of the bonfire society so he knew them word for word.

We then went to a gift shop at the end of our tour where there were parliament themed foods and stationery, the most memorable item was gunpowder mustard.

We then went into the cafe and decided it was too expensive a couple of people had decided to bring their own lunch and it was cold outside at the time so the debate was where can we go indoors and eat where they would not object to some of us eating our own food inside. the first place I could think of was a shopping centre inside with a Marks & Spencer or something for those who didn’t bring any food like myself to buy something however near the London eye we found a MacDonald’s. the one thing unique about that MacDonald’s was the fact that it labelled the calorie content of all their products. I was surprised the Big Mac was only 400 and something however I did enjoy my big tasty burger with bacon even though it was 980 nearly 1000 calories we decided there was plenty of time to do something else.

I suggested we went back on the 91 bus got the top front seats as it included us seeing parliament, downing street and we also would have got a tour of prisons on the way back as we would have passed both Holloway and Pentonville on that route and it would have taken us to the doorstep of the A.F.K building, the only thing was that due to diversions we couldn’t find it. however we did get to walk past horse guards parade where Hisba had her photo taken next to a guard on horse, Colin made a comment about how it would be embarrassing if the guard fell off the horse.

then we went to see downing street then we walked to Piccadilly got the tube then the train back to Hornsey where I saw Hisba with an apple so I told her she should have given the horse some earlier she seemed to laugh but also object at the same time. We arrived at the A.F.K building at 2pm just as if it were a normal working Wednesday.

Lord Mayor Show 2011, by Ben

Ben has Asperger’s Syndrome, and came to the UK from Hungary aged 12. He is a former student who now works at Action For Kids as a Fundraising Assistant.  Ben went with Action For Kids to the City of London Lord Mayor’s Show.

I met some students and staff of Action For Kids (AFK) in Moorgate for Mayor show in cafe place. We all had hot drink.

It was great day because great weather,  great people.

We started at barbican. AFK went to mayor show AFK mini bus came.

Feeling fruity

Started about 11.30 bus was decorated with fruit because the theme was fit for life for day. AFK wants healthy diet. I wore hat with banana i represend bananas.

The Action For Kids team!

We walked on procession half way break. I held AFK banner with Hisba. Hisba is student.

We wore fruits we all dressed up. We were holding flags and waving it.

Sally Bishop is founder of AFK. Sally’s daughter Jo came with baby daughter. Weather was good. My mum kept telling me to buy umbrella. People involved in Mayor Show walked and walked and walked.

Walking the procession

Had cold lunch sandwich water crips. Lot of people watched. Crowds watched Lord Mayor show.

AFK minibus came on procession while we walked. We were filmed at Bank by BBC1.

I did not wait for fireworks which was good because I did not wait until 17.00.

I am looking forward to next year’s Mayor Show good exercise, good day out.

Beach volleyball all over again only this time with a lot more rain

It was this time of year again, the annual beach volleyball tournament. This was held at the usual place the Broadgate arena, between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.

This was a fundraising event where a load of different organisations including Action For Kids as well as our corporate sponsors all form teams to play beach volleyball until they have a winning team at the end of the day.

I was not particularly happy about having to get up over an hour earlier than I usually do to go to Action For Kids on the day. I usually get a lie in after working for the supermarket at midnight the night before and I also wasn’t sure that I could raise quite the same bucket loads as last year and live up to expectations but apart from all that i was looking forward to the event.

I got up and went my usual way to near the AFK headquarters but instead I went into Hornsey station to make my train journey to the Broadgate arena.  After a stop or 2 I happened to see Jo Read (Work related learning director) on the train on her way to the marks and Spencer’s nearby. she wasn’t due to be at Broadgate as soon as I was so i was  running a little late but I did get there.

My first job when I got there was to help lay out the pitch and carry some flags for the sitting volleyball.

This was proving a difficult task for us all. With my work colleague Ben and my line manager Edward we were not finding it easy, however me and Ben were left to it as Edward’s help was needed at the main volleyball game. I had to bring back my childhood-developed skills in completing jigsaw puzzles and when it was done we ended up with the London Underground sign. As Ben as a fellow aspie (person with asperger syndrome) had an obsession with trains and liked to bombard people at  work with e-mails about trains, so he was pleased when the underground sign was completed I took his photo of him in front of the giant underground sign on his phone and my phone so we could show people. As I myself thought it was a big achievement for him as he multi-tasked by doing man well (due to his Hungarian accent he pronounces manual as “man well”) and bombarding at the same time and he managed to make it both about trains and work related.

Ben surveys their handiwork

It was past 10 o’clock when we completed the task so me and Ben reported to Carolyn who was running the event to ask what we had to do next. I was hoping I could do some collecting and get some money as the weather was alright and a few people were beginning to gather round and watch the games, only it turned out the collection licences were on the minibus with Sam Holloway (work related learning manager) and the work related learning students, and were not due to arrive till about half past eleven. This meant I had a break for a bit however some valuable collection opportunities were lost.

However later on the minibus arrived and the collection licences were found.

But once I managed to start collecting it started to rain, luckily this meant that people all went under the sheltered part of the arena where the shops were. So it was ideal for me to go round everybody so I was able to capitalise on this being the nearest place that was sheltered from the rain for the passing public. The bucket started to fill up with change. By the time I made the first bucket too heavy to carry the rain had stopped and the sun had came out and as it was lunch hour more people started to come out and watch the game

Many city folks in suits kept on adding to the loot.  Handfuls of pound coins kept pouring in as I continued with my bucket constantly collecting.

There was a group of rich women who as I kept complimenting they pulled out £5 notes and kept putting them in. After more collecting someone one even put a £10 note in.

Ready to hit the crowds!

I later had a break for lunch, I then had a rest to watch the game myself, which i enjoyed as afk’s team seemed to be winning but i was told that we were yet to play the team that won last year which i think was a hedge fund company. That would make sense as they could afford better players.

All to play for

Afterwards just as I was about to start collecting again it then started to rain. Carolyn who was in charge of the event gave me a clear plastic hoodie which made me look like I was some kind of forensic scientist so I had to go round collecting looking like I was from CSI Broadgate.

All-weather collection Rich

But it did protect me from the rain and as I continued to collect it was beginning to quieten down but it did get better when the sun came out again. More pound coins and someone even put a £20 note in my bucket.

There was a couple of funny incidents which would have been good as comic sketches on the credit crunch, one of which was the banker picking up a penny in the street, another was when I went collecting and there was a banker about to get on one of those bikes for hire to the general public with the Barclay’s bank logo on them that Boris the mayor of London provides. When he said he didn’t have any money I said “So it’s that bad is it? The banks are giving out company bikes rather than company cars, I didn’t know your job had got that bad”. He laughed and a couple of £2 coins came out of his pocket and into my bucket.

As i continued things got funnier and better, there was a team playing who wore red and white stripey tops just like in the old childrens  book “Where’s Wally” so i made the joke that it was becoming more like wallyball. After about 7 something pm I was told that work was over, so Paul the finance director was taking us to a Moorgate pub nearby for drinks so all in all a good day!

A long beer after a long day

The Christmas party at the cricket club in 2010 Gave us A WICKET Time Again

On December the 16th on a Thursday It was this time of year again of the student Christmas party/Reunion. Where present WRL students and former WRL students danced, had a drink, enjoyed food and had fun together. Only it was a change of venue this time. The venue was different as it was not the pump house in new river village this time it was the cricket club only down the road from me where my mum used to take me for a Haringey mothers event when I was little for bouncy castle during the day and a firework display in the evening 

The most fortunate Thing was that despite this event falling on a Thursday, Which is a day I normally spend my evenings working in a supermarket, I happened to have a day of annual leave left spare at that job. So I was able to go to this party after all despite the worry of not being able to the only bad thing was I hadn’t planned or committed myself to anything such as a stand up routine because of this.

I went to the party I found I was one of the first people there as I only had to walk down the road. I found Edward (my line manager) and Tracy (another manager in fundraising) both with father Christmas hat on door duty I was hoping for a pay  rise in my stocking no such luck.

There were still tables that needed moving to make it easier for the wheel chair user guests who were on their way. So Jo Read and a few other members of staff including myself helped to move the tables aside where they would cause less of an obstruction to the above guest’s enjoyment.

It wasn’t long before the party started to get underway Ben (my aspie work colleague) was there and I made a joke with him about having both father Christmas and mother Christmas for bosses so he said “Vell how lucky can we get”

The students started to arrive Lucy (a WRL staff member) used to do something in beauty therapy and had done a good job on the female students.

Everyone gets into the Christmas spirit

The music was playing and Leon (an ex student in a wheel chair) was dancing so much I thought he was going to jump out of his chair.

Elif (a present student with a physical disability) managed to dance without a walking frame or a chair that night, I was hoping no one from the DSS fraud department was at that party that night.

Leon shows off his moves!

Then later on into the party the actor who played the local Asian shop keeper Dev in corrie decided to join the party. It was fun getting him to say a quote from his girlfriends dad when he found out about him and his daughter so he had said something along the lines of “disassociate from the business association”. I think the Highgate cricket club is a far better place than what ever business association he was excluded from in corrie as I’m sure the Highgate cricket club is much more of an elite organisation and AFK is a much better charity to be associated with.

When Richard Met Jimmi

Later on all the staff stated to partake in some line dancing. The last time I’d seen any of that was when there was a mad member of care staff on my house unit at boarding school 14 years ago who liked line dancing, cowboy music and shouting the place down. but they had all come prepared with the cowboy boots and the red cowboy hats. They had obviously rehearsed this before.  I had to keep a low profile and hope nobody would remember I was a staff member just in case I got given a red cowboy hat and a matching pair of boots and be made to join in as on camera that would be embarrassing considering id started drinking by then.

Action For Kids staff put on a show for the students!

Then father Christmas, started to hand out presents to all the students Ben tried to get a present from her and she said “ go away you’re staff”  I wonder if father Christmas paid Ben a visit this year.

Later towards the end of the party as it was so cold I felt I was lucky as I only had to walk a few 100 yards home this was fortunate as I had been drinking however some people were not so lucky including a member of WRL staff who found she could not open the door of her car which was quite a nice newish jaguar. I told her it was a nice car but it turn out it was her husband’s, if she hadn’t I’d of probably looked into moving departments. And thought they paid their staff much better in the WRL department considering they give them far better computers then fundraising.

I tried pulling the door and suggested going inside to get some hot water from a kettle to melt it but another member of staff was worried it might rust. So a few of us attempted to pull the door open I made a joke about how id use something from my house to get it open if I could get some rap CD’s from my house and take it for a joyride. But unfortunately I was too drunk to drive, when it came to my turn I pulled as hard as I could and got it open. The owner was pleased that she could have a nice warm and comfy drive home.

I got home myself very soon after an enjoyable evening after having revisited somewhere so close to home that I hadn’t been to for over 20 years.

Film clip of Action For Kids Student Reunion Party

Please click here  to view a 5 minute clip of the annual Christmas reunion. Our charity and training centre for disabled young people hosted a party for our students paid for by a donor. Students performed a fashion show and a talent show.  

Please note the video opens in YouTube and Action For Kids is not responsible for content on YouTube.

Stand Up, Drink Up, Get Down and Party

If you have attended the last few Action For Kids student reunion party’s you might remember me for my entertainment once I’m put in front of the microphone  after being given the run of a free bar for an hour or 2 and would probably guess that this could be considered somewhat risky by a few.

So this year Sally decided to ask me if I would  pre organise my share of the entertainment at this years party this way she would have time to approve it and get rid of all things compromising the reputation of the trust. And what’s more it would actually give me time to prepare something decent and they would get to see how good I am at this before I had a drink. The entertainment this time wasn’t a Rap like before it was a stand up comedy.

I was trying to think of something that everybody dislikes one way or another and the first thing that came to mind was public transport jokes so I made up a few of them where even Boris Johnson got a mention.

Along with a couple of credit crunch jokes and a few insider jokes about various members of staff within the organisation including one about suspicions of the chief executive of AFK secretly being father Christmas.  There was a joke however that I had to edit out about sally’s Yorkshire terriers pulling the slay instead of reindeers due to one of Sally’s dogs having recently passed away. When I showed my material to Jo and e-mailed it to Sally I got a quick e-mail back saying it was good and I was pleased it could be used and all I had to do was practice it.

When it got to the day I was taken to the gatehouse from about 5 o clock onwards. Sally briefed me that a group of female students where doing a fashion show as well as a few other students dancing to Grease.  

Siobohn was to present them and I was to present another couple of students doing an Indian dance called Bhangra and then I was to do my stand up routine while the girls got changed and then present the fashion show.

It was mayhem in that gatehouse there where a load of girls getting all made up and ready and a couple of student’s mothers helps with the make up. Laurence got dressed up in a dress for the Grease dance so people called him Florence for a while so I turned to Ben my work colleague and said “ I think it might be a good idea to escape before we end up in one of them ” But I decided to stay as I would be presenting them and it might be a good idea to know in advance what I was going to be presenting and I could see a lot of effort was going into this one.

 After a short mini bus ride there I went on the mic and all went well until Sally had to stop the DJ getting ahead of himself by playing the boots advert track “ here come the girls”  straight after Panjabi MC was played for the Indian dance when the boots advert track 2 ‘here come the girls’ was not supposed to be played until I had done my stand up and presented the fashion show once the girls were ready.

But most importantly my stand up routine went well and got the whole party laughing there heads off especially the Boris joke.

After I had presented the fashion show, the food was ready so Jo asked me to get on the microphone and announce that. After that I was finally able to get to the bar and get myself a well earned drink, it was brilliant from then on as everyone was saying how good I was on stage.

The party continued on and I was probably one of the last people to leave after midnight

Then a bus came instantly after crossing the road to take me home -how good of London transport to do this for me after all those jokes about them!

Blogged by Richard

The politicians driven to despair when we paid a visit to parliament square

I was invited to visit the Houses of Parliament where Glenda Jackson (MP for Hampstead and Highgate) would be there to meet us. I thought I’d come along as the chance to grill Glenda would be fun. In the morning on the Wednesday when we arrived at Parliament we where met by a couple of ladies from the PR firm Burson Marsteller who did the PR for the Labour Party and arranged this Unique Opportunity for us. The ladies from the PR firm seemed impressed with my knowledge of the inside of parliament and came out with “I didn’t know that.” I was surprised as I had first assumed they worked at parliament, as I hadn’t met them till that day.

After a little wait we found that we could go in and when I first walked into the Building Troy cracked a joke about watering the grass as he wanted to the toilet but Lyn said that they couldn’t find the time to visit him in the police station if he did. The first door had a Police Woman outside and all bags where searched by her I was tempted to crack a joke about how she had better look under Troy’s cap for his knife but I thought better not as she might take it way too seriously. When we walked though that door it was just like the air port with a load of xray machines and metal detectors and so many police officers that I for a moment thought we had got Scotland Yard by mistake. We had our photos taken and where issued with visitor’s badges then I was able to go to the gents then come back and join the group. The first room where we waited for the tour guide to meet us had a stain glass window and was an old style building which was like a church.

big ben

When the tour guide got there I asked him if it was like a church there coz it was where the politicians prayed that the election results would go their way. The tour guide we got who’s name also happened to be Richard took us to the red section near the house of lords where we went first to the room where the queen goes to change into her special clothes before she opens parliament once a year. There were also lots of coats of arms and shields. The tour guide told us that a lot of the school boys think they were football team symbols so Troy asked where Arsenal was. The tour guide told him to see if he could find it but he couldn’t. We then went to where it really got interesting, the House of Lords and all the red seats, I saw something that looked like a loud speaker on each chair. I asked the tour guide whether it was a loud speaker or heated seats coz the Lords Porsches had them too. The tour guide told me they where loud speakers so everyone could hear each other. Then we all had to stand in the rows on those seats without being able to sit down on them to be out of the other groups way but if I wanted to sit down I would have to buy a pedigree and give a couple of million to a certain political party.

Then Sir Somebody walked in and the security lady told him he was not supposed to be in there at that time. But she did say something afterwards about the rules changing all the time. She also talked about something getting caught on the seats tearing the expensive red leather and saying it was £1000 worth of damage. The tour guide says she was going to show to a place where the Queen doesn’t go and that he would tell me why in the minute. At that point I immediately thought of poor areas and public transport. However it was actually the house of commons. The tour guide told us that this was because of King Charles antics, such as trying to behead politicians, so later he was beheaded himself and the royals where only aloud in the red section of the parliament building and the green part was out of bounds for them. We then went and stood above green seats to stay out of another groups way. These seats you had to live somewhere where a good few thousand people liked you enough to vote for you, so you got elected if you wanted to sit down there. The tour guide also pointed upwards to show us a big screen where the public gallery was before and said that it ruined the live atmosphere. However it was built because a group of protesters threw a bag of flour on Tony Blair’s head and it could have been anthrax or something else more dangerous.

We then went back to the big room that looked like a church and waited for someone to take us to see Glenda. We walked up this escalator and it looked like a shopping centre full of posh cafes. I asked the girl who was showing us the way if the cheapest bar in Westminster that was allegedly was in this building actually existed. Her answer was that we had just gone past it and her husband didn’t like the limited choice of drinks and when I asked her if it was tax free she said no. I figured they where not gone tell the public if it was as that would lose a lot of votes.


We finally got to Glenda’s office. Glenda was there waiting to greet us and we were all offered seats around a table. We were then all given a copy each of this thick booklet called hansar and Glenda said it was just for one day. My first response was gosh I’ve seen company annual reports smaller then this. Glenda said “I doubt it” and Suzie said “ and to think someone has to type all that”. Glenda talked about voting and how it saddened her that young people particularly girls where not bothering to vote as she said she remembered women who had risked their lives and even died to get them this right. And when she was 21 she voted and was happy that she could do so. I remembered a particular year when women where first allowed in the house of lords apart from the queen which was 1958 – only a year after Glenda was 21. So I asked her “Glenda you was 21 in 1957 and I remember from the tour how women where first allowed in the House of lords in 1958 shortly after. Was it your ambition to buy yourself a seat there when you had made enough money after finding you could as a women, but then found you where popular enough for a green seat so you didn’t have to buy a red one”. Her immediate response was “I WAS NOT 21 IN 1957 …… oh yes I was! However you couldn’t buy a seat there in those days you had to be born to the right family which I unfortunately wasn’t.” I don’t think she liked being reminded of that. She did talk a lot about how Gordon Brown was the man for the job and how Cameron wants to do cut backs and how she didn’t like Tony Blair. I asked her if the reason others begged to differ about Brown was that unlike her he was no actor and unlike Tony he was no barrister but that didn’t necessarily mean he wasn’t a good money manager. She seemed to like that.

When I asked her which she preferred out of politics and acting she said that when she was acting most theatre companies wouldn’t have put up the behaviours of some politicians she had to encounter. Suzie talked about how she remembered working with her ages ago when she was acting but I don’t think Glenda remembered her as it was so long ago. When I asked Glenda about the rumour that she told Tony Blair in 2005 to stand down or she will stand against him in 2005 and the fact he did so in 2007 and what she had on him. She answered with “it took him 2 years to go away since the time I told him to, so nothing” and that she did tell him this but she knew she stood not much chance against him so it was what they call a stoking horse. Glenda stated she thought that prime minister’s question time was a waste of time. So I asked her if she were the opposition wouldn’t she want to have the opportunity to ask Mr Cameron questions about his recent causes of action. She responded with “Well yes the prime minister should be held accountable however it has started becoming a time for Torys to have a go at Gordon Brown who is doing a very good job considering the circumstances .”


I asked her what made her want to go into politics when she had already made enough money to retire in acting. Her answer was she wanted to get rid of Margret Thatcher’s ghastly government. I asked her this joke question “So Glenda according to your page on Wikipedia, your political career took off in 1992 around the time that John Major won his last election and that he came from a circus family. Did you think that his party was becoming a bit of a circus and that as an ex actress did you thought she could do a better job of it?” She responded quickly with “ I’ m not that arrogant”. I remember asking her what she thought of car clubs she said “ My constituency is full of people who keep asking me what I’m going to do about getting all those cars off the road but were any of them willing to give up their cars like they want every one else to? No.”

Suzie was talking to her about affordable housing. Glenda was saying that her constituency did have quite a lot of poor people, however she stated that the council had sold approximately 25% of the housing stock under the ‘Right to buy’ scheme.. My thoughts were if that is true Hampstead and Highgate and surrounding area where so expensive, where do all those poor people live apart from the servants quarters? I asked Glenda about how she voted on the Autism bill and the terrorism act where one can be detained for up to 42 days without evidence. She voted yes to the autism bill and no to the said the section of the terrorism act. I wanted to ask her about Cameron’s cut backs and how Gordon intends to continue this good life they are providing on borrowed money and how does Gordon intend to pay it back and continue this at the same time; but she seemed to have to go before I could ask. Maybe she had a 6th sense for this sort of thing.

We then went downstairs to eat lunch which was quite nice but expensive in a café in the houses of parliament. We then went outside waited for Carenza’s wheelchair taxi for a while which seemed to come, then go away, then take a while to get her another one. This was most Annoying but we did arrive back at AFK before 2:30 pm so I could get to my supermarket job on time.

Blogged by Richard

The beach volley ball that was had by all

On Friday the 12th of June I was invited to go to help out at the biggest event that Action For Kids had ever organised which had been talked about for a while by my colleagues in fundraising. It was a beach volleyball tournament in the City. I had to see what it was about. I was originally invited to come at 9:30am to help set it up but I was excused from such duties fortunately due to the fact that I had to work till midnight at my other job the day before and I wouldn’t get much sleep arriving home at 1;00am and then having to get up early to get to Liverpool street at about 9:30am.  


I was offered the option of either going on a mini bus with the Action For Kids students at midday or make my own way there by train for the afternoon. Unfortunately I left the house too late so I missed the mini bus so I went on a train from Hornsey station to Moorgate as my fellow aspie work colleague Ben had previously suggested to me in aspie corner one work day.


I looked around Liverpool Street trying to figure that map out and find the venue among those bank like building with loads of people in suits wondering around. I finally found it and there was a nice section of reserved seats for Action For Kids students to watch the games where there was sand and some banners with the AFK logo on it. Everyone seemed to have badges. I went to down to Carolyn to ask her for a badge, I got a badge that said event staff which was good.


There were 2 teams playing volleyball when I arrived one was HSBC and the other was Action For Kids. My bank account was with HSBC but it was Action for Kids that kept that account in the black for me so I knew exactly what team I was cheering for.


Some of the students where wondering around with some collection buckets Vishna and Yi Ling were waving buckets together, it was funny as they looked like twins.

I also got a chance to have a go at sitting in one of those wheelchairs and play wheelchair basket ball. Siobhan said she wouldn’t be good at it and I made a joke about how she would be better at it then me coz I’m used to basket ball and she might be used to net ball where you cant move with the ball and I couldn’t see how you could move the chair in a straight line and bounce the basket ball at the same time without having 3 hands. I tried it and I was right but I did manage to get the ball through the hoop after finding a chair which fitted me.


We went back to watching beach volley ball games – there was other teams such as hedge funds, banks, police and law firms playing. There was a game between city police and a law firm but I found that funny as lawyers verses cops was a regular professional occurrence. After a while of watching the Action For Kids team play and win their games, I got a chance to get on the court and do a bit of volleyball training with the students. This was fun.


Then I spent a while having a conversation with a lady called Drina who was an academic who had previously interviewed me at work at Action For Kids as she was doing some study on aspies in the work place. I was also talking to this other lady called Debbie who did a job supporting special needs kids in schools, she apparently supported a student in west lea the school I used to go to and started this after I left that school. We had a right laugh about some of the current special school politics my favourite was the term “ inclusion unit” as it seemed contradictory in terms as the work unit met it was one on its own where as inclusion meant it was part of something.


After that conversation  I went with the students to a posh yuppy bar that served food where Suzie ordered everyone a meal and all the students and a few staff members who were not playing on our volleyball team all sat round a big table. I sat and eat a burger and chips. I had Vishna chanting “Prader-Willi Syndrome”  at the top of her voice so I said  “Look Vishna, we are in a bar full of posh yuppies I feel embarrassed enough about wearing my blue jeans and trainers so id rather you didn’t draw further attention too us” and then I had Siobhan shouting across the table that the mushy pea that had come with her fish and chips were Robert’s bogies so I found a chair next to Siobhan so she could make those funny comments without the whole restaurant having to hear them….. for that reason as well as the fact that the kind of people who drink in that bar have another kind of “prada willy” syndrome where they want to talk like Prince William and wear clothes made by prada. You could see that the yuppies were not used to having disabled kids in their restaurant.


After watching more volleyball I made a joke about how having to clear the sand up afterwards would be a good prize if there was a load of valuable things like diamonds and £50 notes buried in that sand. It turned out the Action For Kids team came second to the Mitsubishi team in the final match. I was offered a mini bus ride home but I told Susie that I wished to see my duty through to the bitter end meaning a pint of bitter bought by the directors but unfortunately there was more to it then that.


At about 7:30pm the mini bus drove the students away and we all had to grab shovels to clear away the 40 tons of sand on the volleyball court. I saw even our director Paul’s 6 year old daughter had grabbed her small spade that came with a bucket for building sand castles so I said as a joke to Paul “Is it me or are site staff getting younger?”. We all got to work shovelling the sand into bags, this was really hard work.

 Picture 251

It took us to about 10:30pm for us to fill all those bags with sand and by that time we decided to leave the rest to the professionals with the JCB truck. The only few of us remaining were Jo, Lawrence and Robert so I was the only member of fundraising staff remaining apart from Lyn and Carolyn who organised the event and stayed till midnight. Finally I got a pint which I really needed as Jo bought me a drink, this felt good. After that me and Jo got on a tube and got the W3 bus. She told me all about her time she ran her own business dealing in antiques when she was 18 while I talked about some of the funny business failures I had when I was that age. After that it was nice to finally be home after a long evening.

Action For Kids

Blogged by Richard

The day I drank wine, sampled food and talked to posh women

About 2 weeks ago Paul (the Action For Kids Finance director) ask me if I would be willing to accompany him to an event called the London social enterprise presentation. He explained to me a little about the other organisations that might be attending including some African peoples organisation and a homeless one. He told me that he was offered the opportunity to bring a student or a colleague he said that he thought of me because I was both. My first thought was well even if it is just a load of political correctness lectures it was better then boring inputs.

So when the Tuesday came after lunch me and Paul  went to Hornsey station to get a train to Finsbury park where we got a tube towards water loo he told me about how he was raised in Enfield and he remembered an older relative working in the factory that used be owned by Ruberiod the company where my father was chief accountant back in the 80’s.

We went to waterloo and walked to the office it was quite a nice office we went into the reception and there was badges for both of us and we looked at a few amusing names of other organisations attending the event including one called “action for visitors”. We went up the stair to the conference room where the event was being hold. We sat down and the talking began it was quite a talk about how social enterprise help many organisations started up for good causes who didn’t know how to quite grow themselves by teaching them management techniques. This sounded quite interesting but despite that the room was just at the right climate for me to struggle to stay awake but I managed it.

After the talk came the best bit and that was getting to talk to all the people while plenty of wine and small samples of posh food was served. I talked to quite a few interesting people including one of the women who gave the talk she was previously in the property business providing office space for businesses too big to run from the owners home yet too small to afford their own premises. I also talked to another women who gave a talk who had started social enterprise and she was impressed that I was able to understand her talk. I also met a man from a company that’ specialises in getting disabled people into IT jobs. As well as someone from some other organisation which I forgot what it does but he recognised me from my other supermarket job. What a small world.


On my way back on the tube Paul seemed to think that it had gone well. We also had an interesting talk about quite a few things including previous jobs and he told me that even he used to stuff envelopes as a student at the Tesco’s head office in Chessant and how boring it was. I also told him a few stories’ my father told me about the early years of his accountancy career. All in all it was one of the best days I had ever had in my time of paid employment at Action For Kids and I didn’t think it got much better then sitting on a mini bus drinking coke and impersonating my old northern geography teacher for the entertainment of some students on another outing but it did the day Paul took me out to an event where I got paid to drink wine, sample posh foods and chat to rich women…

Blogged by Richard