Life as a Fundraising Intern – Week Four
20/03/2013

Sitting in the office this afternoon it is time for me to reflect, once again, on my week here at Action For Kids. Among the usual chatter, hustle and bustle of daily office life provided by our young people, I am able to digest the events of this week using my experiences as a tool with which to reflect upon what I have learnt so far.

This week, I have been given the opportunity to demonstrate my skills within the areas of Public Relations (PR) and Communications. Having worked within Action For Kids for a considerable amount of time now, I have built upon an array of skills and knowledge, being given tangible experience of working within an office environment and specifically, the department of Fundraising. This has been invaluable, and something that I look forward to continuing to learn from in forthcoming weeks.

As you may already know, we hold an annual Beach Volleyball Championship that takes place to raise vital funds in support of our charity and the children and young people we help.  For those of you who are less familiar with this event, fast-paced city life collides with the anticipation and fun brought about when a Beach Volleyball court is placed in the centre of an iconic venue. This year the Championships will take place at Canary Wharf, complete with 80 tonnes, yes, 80 tonnes of sand and a shiny Beach Volleyball ready to be sprang into action!

Leaping into action!

Leaping for the ball!

If you have never competed in our Championship before and would like to participate, all you have to do is get a team of between 5-10 people together, pledge to fundraise for Action For Kids and you are good to go! There is plenty of time to register your interest, just go to our website for more information, or give us a call on our usual telephone number. Alternatively, you can always have a look at a selection of videos from last year’s event on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/actionforkids.

Many of our players are keen to get involved eith the game, often choosing quirky ways to represent their team

Many of our players are keen to get involved with the game, often choosing quirky ways to represent their team.

In relation to this year’s event, I was asked to write a mock press release that could potentially be distributed to Press, giving journalists or other important stakeholders the chance to find out more about our event. Where appropriate, this would also present journalists with the opportunity to write a piece about it for publication. Writing this press release was a particular highlight of my week, as I was able to use the skills and knowledge acquired during my degree to assist me with completing the task. It was also beneficial to be able to practice and polish my skills of writing a press release, while using my knowledge of PR and Communications to lead with expertise in this area; assisting with a specific function within our organisation.

In addition to this, I was given the responsibility of creating a press coverage document for all the coverage we have gained in relation to our partnership with Sainsbury’s Muswell Hill. I thoroughly enjoyed compiling this document, as it is very valuable for Action For Kids as a way of documenting the recent activities of the organisation. It also allows us to demonstrate the ways that in being granted such a valuable partnership with Sainsbury’s, we have been able to provide our young people with some amazing opportunities.

Overall, this week has been a brilliant way of not only developing my existing skills, but also sharing the specific skills I possess for the benefit of the organisation. It is great to feel that the work I do is not only important to the organisation, but also valued by those I work with. Working within such a diverse office and team means that I am able to engage in a reciprocal learning process, as well as making a difference to Action For Kids and the work that it does, as this week has served to demonstrate.

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Life as a Fundraising Intern – Hello & Happy New Year!
01/02/2013

As it is the start of the new year, everyone here at Action For Kids and I would like to wish you, our blog followers a happy and healthy 2013. We are looking forward to the year ahead and are keen to keep you well informed of our happenings over the next twelve months.

You may be wondering why blog content has been a little sparse over the past few weeks. This is because unfortunately, just before the festive period I had an accident resulting in a broken ankle; meaning I had to temporarily postpone my role as a Fundraising Intern. Having to adapt to life with an ankle injury has not been without its challenges, especially when living with a disability presents a variety of challenges in itself. However, after some much needed rest, copious amounts of tea, biscuits and television, this blog post marks my first day back at Action For Kids; which is a great feeling.

Time for Tea!

Time for Tea: The perfect remedy when feeling blue.

Entering the office this morning it was as if I had never been away, the atmosphere as friendly, warm and welcoming as it had ever been.  I am very pleased to say that I am, once again, a part of the Action For Kids team and look forwards to sharing and documenting my future experiences as part of this blog.

Life as a Fundraising Intern – Week Two
20/10/2012

Another Friday evening has arrived, and so it marks the end of my second week here at Action For Kids. As I write this entry, the faint sound of hoovering fills the air, coupled with a distant murmur of conversation. Re-winding my brain back over the events of the past week, I am beginning to reflect on my experiences, piecing together each memory and learning experience in the personal jigsaw puzzle that is my brain.

This week, I have had the opportunity to learn about many different aspects of Action For Kids in relation, but not always exclusive to, the Fundraising Department. The most prominent theme of this week has been learning about the significance and growing importance of the internet, (in particular social media) to the charity. Any activity the organisation participates in online, be that related to the website, on Twitter, or on the Action For Kids Facebook page, maintaining a virtual presence is something that everyone takes pride in.

The Action For Kids Twitter Page

If you feel inspired to learn more about our charity or want to interact with us, find us on Twitter.

Being part of a generation that has grown up with the internet and the many social media trends that have followed since its creation, sharing snippets of my life to family and friends in a virtual environment is something that I have grown accustomed to. The aspect that perhaps I hadn’t considered as fully as I could have prior to this week, is the use of social media for charities including Action For Kids. I now see that, as well as providing the opportunity for interaction and communication between the organisation and its supporters, it allows our charity to have its voice heard. This proves to be invaluable, especially when the majority of issues a charity may face are not always deemed newsworthy by the Media.

The Action For Kids Facebook page

The Action For Kids Facebook page contains information on events and other relevant happenings. If you feel inspired to find out more about us, join our page!

I have had great fun contributing to the Facebook page, uploading images (many of which were ‘nail-biting’ action shots) from last year’s City Beach Volleyball Tournament. A number of the staff and young people have also shared anecdotal stories about what to expect from next week’s event, which is even more exciting.

Reflecting on my experiences this week, I can honestly say that I have had the chance to build upon my learning experiences; turning theory gathered in my degree into practice. Looking ahead to next week, I am excited to face the many opportunities and challenges that it may bring, and cannot wait to be a part of this year’s Beach Volleyball Event!

A Teacher that didn’t quite make the grade…!
19/05/2009

 

 Last term, one of my teachers was given the sack! The reason for this was simple: he lost our grades on no less than 6 times!

          Week 1: This teacher came to us all and said he hadn’t marked the work.  He went back to his office. Next day, he said it had ‘got caught up in a shredding pile’.

          Week 2: Teacher was in a bit of a flap over something when he came into the lesson. I asked him what was wrong. He muttered something about a mark book. I asked him as second time. This time, he gave in. He had fallen asleep on the Victoria Line and left his mark book on the train…WITH ALL OUR GRADES IN IT!  He apologised for the mistake and promised they would be found. This was an empty promise. They have never been found to this day.  After the lesson I had a massive go at the teacher. Obviously, he wasn’t best pleased. I was furious that my grades were gone! As far as I was concerned, I was as good as failed! I had to cool down for an hour.

Week 3: A message was posted on the college virtual notice board. It said that there had been a serious system error in regard to all Health and Social Care grades. All I could say to that was: ‘? *! @****!’ I was understandably annoyed. Week three and the problem had only got worse! It was traced back to this teacher. He was shown the door.             

A new head of department was brought in. She has rebuilt the reputation of the department in amazing style! The grades have never been retrieved.  I really hope that something can be done.

Blogged by Toby

Meeting Dame Kelly Holmes at the Olympic Volunteering Workshop
30/03/2009

olympic-visit

 Carenza, Dame Kelly Holmes, Me (Toby), Charlotte, MP Tessa Jowel

 On the 26th March, three of us from Action For Kids (Toby, Charlotte and Carenza) were selected as members of the youth forum, to go to a workshop run by Tessa Jowell MP and Dame Kelly Holmes (Double gold Olympic Medallist) at a rejuvenation centre in Commercial Street.

          We all made our own way there. I arrived 40 minutes early and so sat in a café for a while. At 8:30am, I finally walked across the road to the centre and walked in. I saw Beryl near the desk. I hung around and met some other people from different groups.  As I turned, I caught a glimpse of my sports hero…the one…the only………DAME KELLY HOLMES! I couldn’t believe I had finally seen her in the flesh. I thought to myself: ‘She is and absolute legend!’ I was speechless and stopped dead in my tracks.

 

          First activity of the day was, to my surprise, a rejuvenation massage! It was aimed at getting us all to clear our minds and calm down be fore a busy day. It consisted of a combination of deep breathing, listening to calm music and massaging the body.  The funny part of that was that I fell asleep! The person leading it had to wake me up. I felt like a right idiot!

 

          We then all came out (slightly dazed) into the entrance area of the centre. We all then went to another room where all of us (and 47 other people) were greeted by Tessa Jowell MP and Dame Kelly Holmes.  After a 20-minute introduction to the workshop, we were split into three groups: Group A, Group B & Group C. I was in Group A.  Each group was allocated a room.

          My group was in the ‘Metal Room’. We were in three groups within group A. We were then given pieces of paper and a pen for each group. Jess (a volunteer from V-20) asked us some questions about a party: what would or wouldn’t make us want to go. She then changed the word ‘party’ to ‘volunteering’.

We discussed the questions and wrote down our answers. We then took a break.

         

During the break, Kelly was walking around talking to people. I went over and asked her if it was okay to have a photo of her and me together on my mobile phone. She gave my phone to a V-20 volunteer. They took the photo and went away. I got a drink and went back to the room.

          In the second session, we talked about successful campaigns (such as President Obama’s) in the same groups. We then made posters to show what we had discussed. We then watched a pitch from a company offering volunteering opportunities for young people. The project was called ‘Million’.  This is the number of young people they are looking for to help in 3 years time. I started to think it would be quite cool to help, so put my name forward.

During all this, Kelly and Tessa were popping in and out of the room to see what we were up to.  We then made posters about what made a successful campaign. My group used the example of Barrack Obama’s campaign for the US presidency. 

          After that, all the groups came back together in the room where the introduction to the day had taken place. I asked to speak for my group. I gave a very simple answer to the question: was their pitch good or not? I said: no. Everyone laughed. I didn’t mind.  The other groups spoke and the workshop finished with some closing comments from Kelly and Tessa. A couple of group photos were taken and we got onto two buses

          So, we all went on two buses around the Olympic park with a tour guide. It was absolutely tipping it down during the bus journey.  We were all then dropped off at Stratford Station to go home. A great day was had by all!

 

 – Blogged by Toby

I’VE SEEN A BETTER WAY NOW I WORK AT AFK
25/02/2009

Apart from being demoted at my supermarket job, (see story below), there were many other negative and degrading incidents at work like memos consisting of threats and criticism even including one memo where it implied that it was a crime to ask for training. I allowed this to carry on as I had a low self-esteem and things at the back of my mind told me maybe my work was substandard and that they were making allowances for the fact I got the job through mencap. And that that was the best job I could get…..

……Until the day I came to work at Action For Kids (AFK) as a member of staff for the first time in Jan 2009. I wondered what it was going to be like as I had previously been at AFK as a student for about 3 years then on and off. AFK had given me the confidence to apply for better jobs which I had came very close to getting, but not quite there. This included getting to the last few people for a managing directors job for a subsidiary company of a charity and also a £70,000 a year job as a sales rep for an international property company where one of the directors liked me and wanted to give me a job and his son also had Aspergers, however he couldn’t get the other more sceptical directors to agree so the search continued.

However in dec 2008 Sally the founder of AFK approached me offering me a job in the fundraising department. I had more confidence then ever – in ages – this was because they always had said good words to me saying I could do a better job then that. The action of them actually giving me a better job then that was an action that spoke louder then words for me.

desk

When I first started my work at Afk I was introduced to inputting the sales of raffle tickets that the evening canvassing staff had sold over the phone. After a few days, they were up to date for the first time in company history. The fund raising manager tracy knocked on Paul the finance directors door and they both congratulated me. They also promised I didn’t have to do inputting all the time and that I would get to do more interesting things, and they were talking to a lottery grant application consultant and helping write articles for the AFK newsletter. But unfortunately afk only employ me for 14 hours a week and the minimum required to claim my disabled person’s tax credits was 16 hours per week so unfortunately I had to keep my supermarket job.

However this was a great revelation for me that my work was actually worth something. I think had it not been for my time at afk both as a student and a part time staff member, I don’t think I would have come as close to realising my true self worth.

Blogged by Richard