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 tfl.gov (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.


A few months’ ago I was told that Beryl (the WRL supervisor) was going to be retiring a in a few weeks a lady called Carol was going to be replacing her .This would be confusing as she was going to be working at a desk on the other side of me from my line manager carol before she went on maternity leave, but as they where in different departments being surrounded by carols before Christmas was alright.

Jolene (the WRL minibus chaperone) told me she was putting together a video for beryl, to give her on her last day to remember us all by, as she knew her since her school days when she worked with her in her school as member of support staff, she gave me 2 weeks notice so I was able to think of something decent to say on it.

When it got to my time, the noise levels in the whole building where way too much so Jolene took me onto a mini bus to say my part.

I decide to make a joke about getting one of experiences that I missed out on as a student but later experienced as a staff member because I came to AFK as an independent traveller, was getting chaperoned onto a mini bus by Jolene. I also talked about my memory of Jolene showing me around the place and first introducing me to beryl.  As well as listening to at work what I would call “Beryl’s lunch time blues” which consisted of her talking to the parents/guardians of naughty students about there behaviour and about the things she did not feel was in her job description such as washing up and cleaning up after them and how I hoped her husband didn’t think she was going to be there to do that for him at home now she was going to be there more.

I can’t remember but I might of mentioned as well that because she said she was thinking of trying to get a job as a school bus Escort I wouldn’t have minded her as one back in the day when I was a small boy being picked up by a mini bus provided by my local authority to take me to special school half an hours drive away, also how she would be sadly missed.

A few days before the planned surprise party: Aaron (an autistic student) let the cat out of the bag when he asked Beryl if she was coming to her own surprise party.

But that did not ruin it too much.

On the day I was able to stop work at about 4 because the barbecue was about to start I had left room in my tummy for this.

Salad at Beryl's leaving party

Non-vegetarian option also available

There was a few interesting salads and some capital gold music playing outside the Afk building. I wondered if the burger van lady was happy about us giving them away for free that day.

There was one type of sausage I was very happy to try and that was a sausage that was curled up like a snake. Siobhain made a comment about it looking like dog pooh. I later found her and Troy on the bus drinking im not sure if  Jo Read ( the WRL director) caught them or not after id told her I enjoyed a few drinks myself once I  found what fridge the beer was in.

I also saw a few blast’s from the past this included Catharine (the WRL Manager) at the time of my first joining AFK as a student and she was thin again as it was good to see after she had left on maternity leave as well as finding her son could walk.

Another blast from the past was Sean French (the communication manager when I was there as a student) I first as a joke bragged to him about the fact I was now paid to be there and now sat at the same desk as he did back then and how could I manage to take a communications managers desk when I was diagnosed as having a communication impairment twice in my life. I then admitted my job title was different but only the desk was the same, he laughed.

I went and talked to some more people with more food and drink I had the misfortune of finding a live wasp in my drink luckily I saw it before I downed my drink as it could have been legal but if I had downed that drink id of really been buzzing.

After the chief executive made a few speeches as well as various other people including Siobhain got hers from the Borat movie when she said the comment  “now that you are retarded”  this made everyone gasp and those who had watched that movie including me laugh.* All in all Beryl’s party was definitely something to remember her by.

Sliced retirement cake

A sweet sendoff for Beryl

* For those who haven’t seen the Borat movie this was a comedy film where Sacha Baron Cohen (comedian best know for a Alie G show) played a journalist from Kazakhstan (Borat) was on a trip to The USA doing research for a documentary on American life. This gag was made from a seen where Borat was at a dinner party and when Borat asked a gentleman his occupation and he replied he was retired and Borat  thought he was saying retarded because the word sounded similar .
Blogged by Richard

Raised Bucketloads from them all at Beach Volleyball

On Friday the 11th of June (unlike my usual Fridays where I had a nice lie in) my long weekend began after my 12 hour working day on a Thursday where I go to Action For Kids in the morning and don’t finish work till I finish my supermarket job at midnight. I was told that I as well as other people from Action For Kids where needed for this big event called beach volleyball which meant I was going to have to get up at 7 something am in order to get to somewhere between Liverpool street and Moorgate by 9:am.

This was the first time since attending last years that I was to get involved in this event.  Some of my fellow fundraisers at the charity who had been organising this product, first Carolyn then Sarah and finally Carol had all fallen pregnant coincidently or not I wonder. But I was glad not to get involved in the event till the day itself because as much as I liked beach volleyball, I certainly didn’t like the idea of spending a few months looking like I had swallowed one even if I did mean a nice few months paid leave.

On the day I arrived at about 9:00 am it was raining slightly and I ended up helping Ben (my fellow Aspie work colleague) helping him shovel and brush and sand off the signs so that people could see Action For Kids’ contact details. Sarah told me that fortunately there where people coming to shovel the sand into bags at the end of the day so we didn’t all have to shovel up a beach like last year.

I went to see Maureen to find that though I had an event staff badge somewhere along the way my actual name badge had been replaced. I was a little surprised at this but in some ways I was happy as this might of saved me from getting stalked.

After the sand job with Ben I went to find an Action For Kids t-shirt but the only one I could find was the small size so it was very fortunate that I had been going to the gym more often recently because if it had been a couple of months earlier I would have looked pregnant from getting involved in beach volleyball.

Sarah then handed me a handful of programs explaining to people what the event was about. And told me to hand them out to people so they will watch the event and also to take a charity collection tin with me. This was where my collection duty’s began.

The first man I approached was a working class seeming man in his 50’s who seemed to be a railway worker of some kind and I remember him for the fact he was the first man to put money in the box. When I explained to him what I was collecting money for he gave me some money. He seemed to think it would be little kids playing volleyball but I put him right and explained that the event was put on to raise money for a children’s charity and that the big boys and girls would be battling it out in a non professional capacity e.g. lawyers vs police.

I continued to collect and hand out leaflets outside a small shop full of people buying breakfast snacks and new papers. This was good as people had just received there change and were more then willing to put some into the money box, even the manager of the shop put some in the box.

After a while Sarah called me and Ben to help with setting up the sitting volleyball by laying out the mats and erecting the net. By then it was 11: am and after Sarah saw how full my little money box was she upgraded me to a charity collection bucket.

I went round all the posh yuppies in their nice suits with my charity collection bucket. If they asked me what the charity was I said “I’m collecting for the Action For Kids charitable trust who provide mobility equipment for disabled children who need it and your change and make a change to their life’s for the better.” This normally got people forking out the money in fact a few people put a £20 note inside my bucket.

At about 1:00pm I ate a sandwich and some crisps and drunk some water that was provided for volleyball players and Action For Kids staff for my lunch. After my lunch and having a little sleep in the sun it was about 2:00-2:30pm. I started to go round collecting again. This proved successful so much so that Sarah told me to take breaks and that I was working too hard. Maybe she had had enough of emptying my bucket for the 3rd time.

There are a few good people I remember collecting from, one of which was 2 rich women who gave me £25 and told me if I went to the bar and got them Pimms they would give the change as a donation I did this for them and it turned out to be over £15 I thanked them for this and told them to let me know when they wanted another drink.

I also went to a place where a couple of yuppies were sitting. They gave me some money as if they where paying me to go away.  A man in a really smart suit who looked old enough to be their dad came and joined them and as soon as he saw me with my bucket he said “I haven’t got any money”.

The first 2  yuppies thinking that it would scare me away said “He is our boss”  so  I said “I have got to get your e-mail so I can send you my CV as I got to come and work for you one day”. Him kind of surprised said “Why’s that” so I said “It’s because I’ve never met a boss who pays his staff so well that they can afford to give more then he can.” This soon got him to put his hand in his pocket.

There was also another occasion where I used similar humour to get someone money into the bucket and that was then there was this group which consisted of a man and 2 women where the first women put some money in and the man did when I brought the bucket round to the second women she pointed to the man and said “he’s my husband” so I said “ you are very lucky in fact probably one of the luckiest women alive”. He said “Why’s that?” so I said “Because I don’t think I have ever met a women with a husband more generous then she is.” The other women and the man burst out laughing  while the women got her hand bag open and some more change fell into the bucket.

After I filled up my last bucket I went round various people I knew in Action For Kids to let them feel how heavy it was this included Carol (my line manager) who said she couldn’t lift heavy things  in her condition as she was pregnant. And Paul (the finance director) felt the weight of the bucket and agreed that that justified my getting paid for that day.

Then when I got it back to Sarah I watched her fill a bag with the money from the bucket like she had previously done with the others and then placed all the bags into the bucket of all the money that I had collected that day this was quite heavy I could only just about lift it.

I then asked Sarah what she wanted me to do next she said “Go and have a beer with Ben.” I looked everywhere for Ben to tell him the good news about what the boss for the day had said. But unfortunately he was nowhere to be found. Maybe he had escaped at the wrong time for once. I helped Nick from I.T pack away a tent or 2 and take it up to the mini bus then Sarah told me I should get a special reward for my efforts then showed me the pub where the staff at Action For Kids were waiting for me and ready to buy me a drink and thank me for a job well done.

On the Tuesday (the next time I came into work) Sarah showed me the bucket which I helped her carry to Jack’s office where even super Nick (the personnel manager) found the bucket  heavy to lift so that made sure I was on the payroll for that day.

On the Wednesday when I wasn’t scheduled to come into work I received a voice mail from Sarah on my phone saying that I had raised over £750 that day at beach volleyball. This was a good feeling as I had thought it was about half that.

On the Thursday when I next came into work Sarah saw me on the way in and said “I know this is an office but can I give you a hug?” I said yes you can and she did so. And made a joke about the appropriateness of hugging in an office; sounding like something Carol would say to me and Ben because she always reminds us that some of our jokes in the office are not appropriate.

There was also an office Circle Time and in that circle I was presented with a certificate for the amount I had raised which Sarah had made for me. I also found an email from Mick the chief exec and Sally the founder of the charity saying well done for the amount I raised.

I had obviously raised a lot of positive attention for myself as well as money for Action For Kids.

Blogged by Richard

I didn’t think I was that lucky When I had my time on the T.V.

A few months ago a friend of mine Claire, who also has Aspergers like me, told me she was going to star in a documentary about the autistic spectrum called ‘Young Autistic and Starstruck’. She didn’t really explain what it was except that it was filmed mostly at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith.  However she did ask me about weather I would be interested in being in on it at some point. I said yes because I thought it might help my course for creating awareness but unfortunately it didn’t help with the awareness I wanted to create. As you will see from the following events: 

Later on I got a phone call from a nice seeming lady, who explained that she was from Channel 4 and was filming a documentary about autism and Claire had told me I was interested and she wanted it filmed at a time I next socialised with Claire and a few other friends. I agreed to this and the nearest thing I could think of for that was my birthday party to which Claire had been invited and the lady from channel 4 was happy with this.

I talked to both my parents about this and they were going to be away from home on the day that my birthday party was planned for my sister’s Oxford graduation. They also expressed disapproval of the whole idea of there being a film crew in my house especially at my birthday parties due to the fact that that’s when unpleasant incidents had occurred in the past, such as an uninvited friend of a friend having to be chucked out for attempting to steal money from my wallet hoping I’d be too drunk to notice and various other dramas. Also that it wouldn’t be likely to be showing me on telly in a good light. Further more my father objected to his private space in his home being aired on telly for all to see.

Also the lady a few days before had tried to talk to me on the phone asking me for the names and contact details of every single person who would be attending including the parents of all of them for legal reasons. I told her that this was impossible as I had no idea out of the people I had invited who would turn up. Also at least 2 of the expected guests at my party had left home ages ago and one of which who’s in his 30’s has his parents living in Australia  who he hasn’t spoken to much since he left home at the age of 18 and that I had never even met the parents of half those people. So my Birthday party was a no goer for them.

Later an alternative social event was arranged in a pub in Hammersmith, where there would only be a few people attending. This would be just me Claire and a couple of other lads on the spectrum who me and Claire both knew from Turtle Key Arts an Asperger people’s arts group that meets once a month in Westbourne Park. This was a lot more viable plus they where willing to provide us with food and drink at the pub during the filming. One of the other people attending was a friend a friend of mine (Oliver) who has High Functioning Autism. He was the one to introduce me to the to turtle key arts where I met Claire.

The event seemed to go well. We enjoyed our food curtsey of channel 4 after we had all signed forms giving permission to show the footage. The filming began and the drink started to flow and some people seeing all the film crew around us wondered what was going on. We were asked all sorts of personal questions that I wasn’t expecting such as “Do you have a girlfriend?” or “What do you think of sex?” I just said experiences good and bad while not giving too much personal information away. Claire gave a primary school type answer of “No way and yuck” but I think that was her way of not wanting to talk about it on telly either and for that I don’t blame her.

My H.FA (high functioning autism) friend Oliver said some nonsense about how autistics should only be with other autistics, which would mean 60% of the population on the spectrum would be single as the autistic spectrum is 80% male. And to think he was the only one who hadn’t had any alcohol out of all of us that night-  he must have felt under pressure.

David another Aspie [person with Aspergers] lad who happened to be Claire’s ex boyfriend said “What did you say that for?” in response to Claire’s answer. Oliver then started making his feelings for Claire a little obvious by fussing over her and offering to cut her food up for her. I teased him by impersonating his voice saying “Claire would you like me to cut this up for you, coz I fancy you?” He then asked me to step outside. The camera man followed us. They must have thought a fight would happen.

When we got outside he said something like “Richard do you mind not saying that I fancy Claire as I don’t want her thinking that so soon”. I thought that he must have been unaware of just how obvious his behaviour was. I laughed and responded “Bruv you made it so obvious with all that stuff like cutting up the food. You got to take it easy”. A film crew member immediately asked both of us if we fancied her. Oliver told them that yes, he did. I thought to myself does he not realise that could get seen by her in a matter of weeks?

 Thank god for my A.F.K.  trip to a P.R company. The training there came in useful I.E the art of answering questions without answering questions so just like Tony Blaire and the MMR jab I answered it with “Claire is a pretty and young attractive girl, I can see why many boys would fancy her, however my desires could wonder elsewhere in the near future”. We went back to the table and the film crew followed. It all seemed to go well.

However a few months later the program went on air very recently and I knew to get it recorded as I had a phone call from Channel 4 telling me that the scene with me in it was going to be showed that night. I watched it alone with the earlier episodes which showed to be about a cast of autistic people at the lyric theatre working together to create a play and were going to have an audience a few weeks later. Claire was a part of the cast. The scene in the pub was filmed for the sole purpose of showing Claire’s social life outside the theatre project. The scene was only about a couple of minutes long where the 3 of us me, Oliver and David where introduced as “Claire has friends she goes to the pub with some Friday nights to help her independence. They are all autistic.”

They then showed us being asked the 2 questions. They showed Claire’s, Oliver’s and David’s answers to the questions. However they completely cut out mine and edited in a scene of me laughing at their stupid answers. And it had someone else’s squeaky noise in the back ground. I didn’t like how that made me look like I had the maturity of a 10 year old and that I was too retarded to answer the questions, just because my answer didn’t quite fit the purpose of the programme. It seems to focus mainly on the negatives of the autistic spectrum, such as people having tantrums. My dad was right about not having them at my party.

However on a more positive note I did get a few text messages from some people I know saying that they had seen me on telly. And they did show some of Claire’s incredible musical talents but why couldn’t have they shown my intelligent answers to the questions and maybe some of Oliver’s great paintings in his café he helps to run? I was just worried that people who didn’t know me would see me and think that it was me that made that squeaky noise.

You would be amazed at the things some people would be willing to do for 5 minutes of fame. I mean look at the X Factor, a chance to a laugh at the most deluded of neurotypicals [people without Aspergers].  Hey I wonder if Simon Cowell buys them any drinks before or after they make fools of themselves on national T.V for our entertainment?

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

The Day the staff at AFK went away

…. and tried not to get too carried away.

It all started with the meet up at Finsbury park station at 8:30 with a few members of the young peoples panel group that mainly consisted of Action For Kids students and ex students. So in a sense I had got a double invitation to attend that event.

Firstly coz I was now a member of staff on the payroll and secondly because I was a member of that young peoples panel who where invited to attend this event. I accompanied by Jo and a couple of students went down the Victoria line to oxford circus and made our way to the king’s fund.


When we arrived at the king’s fund it was a nice big building where there was a big hallway and we went upstairs to this big room shared with people attending events for other organisations with doors leading to other separate rooms (our room was room 7), which was lucky. Another lucky thing about it was that the man I had spoken to about lottery grant applications a few months ago was the man who was going to be running that event. So an event in room 7 run by a lottery man how lucky could it get.


I was talking to a few of the people there then who should I see but an old friend of mine who used to live down the road to me. She happened to work in that building which I didn’t know she worked there. When the event started there was a few speeches and then they’re where a few team building games to help us get to know each other better. And indeed I did learn a few interesting things about the staff at Action For Kids e.g. Jo was bourn in Thailand. Then where asked to brainstorm the word participation then did a few activities about that.


We had lunch and everything seemed to be to seafood apart from the vegetable crisps which it would have been funny if they where prawn cocktail something a bit fishy was going on here. The students had all gone home when lunch was over but for the staff the fun and games continued we had the team building game of no talking and we had to stand in a row in order of our birth dates. Nick and few more senior members of staff where rather worried at the thought of that however Paul C who was running it said that it was only the date not the year so it started with January one end and December the other only 2 of us had to swap at the end.


After a few of those games we talked more about participation and we had to pair up with fellow members of our departments and talk about how to get the students involved in the work that we do. Ben and me discussed how we could give our boring inputs to some the students as a promotion from envelope stuffing.


Paul was given a trophy for his good work as a finance director for Action For Kids, and then we started to walk to the pub, as a joke I pointed out to Paul that it was good he won a trophy on the day he agreed to renew my employment contract, and I suggested that giving me a pay rise might get him a kinghood. He laughed at that joke. pity I was hoping he’d try that one.




I was glad we where going to the pub as never had I spent so much time on discussing one word even though it was one with 5 syllables. Some started off on soft drinks and others including me got straight into it. Many jokes and funny story’s where told, however some of us got talking to the land lady who told us she had a son with A.D.H.D or dyspraxcia who was in his early 20’s and so a potential new student was found on that night out. I was the last one to leave this bar along with Lawrence from work related learning after he told me about his other previous jobs that where not as good as his present job. I then went on the tube and went home after a good day out.


 Blogged by Richard

Action For Kids visit the Rix Centre visit


A few of us from the Work Related Learning (WRL) Department were ‘specially chosen’ to visit a technology development centre which is at the University of East London  (UEL).


          At 10:30 am we all piled into Antonio’s bus. We didn’t actually leave until 10:45! We then had about a 45-minute ride to the centre. When we got there, Daniel (one of the people there) then met us outside the centre. We then went up to the centre where we met Pat and Andy.   We then learnt about ‘wiki sites’. These are small sites that are easily created and managed.  We then got into groups and started to plan a couple of different sites. One about the ‘Cooking Bus’ and another about Burson-Marsteller: the latter is a company who donated about £3,000 to Action For Kids.


          We then had lunch in the canteen downstairs. Most of us had brought a packed lunch but others got lunch in the canteen. Half way through the lunch hour, Andy came to join us. 15 minutes later, we returned to the Rix Centre. After our lunch had gone down, we got back into our groups. Each group then started to actually create the wiki sites. My group worked on the site that was to do with the ‘Cooking Bus’. The groups had been asked to bring in relevant photos (I misunderstood and emailed myself a photo of White Hart Lane!). I then found some relevant photos of the time in the ‘Cooking Bus’. Just before we left, Andy showed us a couple of new pieces of technology that were still being developed. These included:  face recognition, barcode-type recognition and a new format on Youtube.


 We stayed there until about 2:45pm.  We returned to Ability house by about 4:45pm. It was an interesting.

          I brought a lot away from the trip – especially the interesting new forms of technology. I’m sure that in time, these new aids will come in to use and Action For Kids will be able to pass it on to others who may benefit from it.



Blogged by Toby


When Jo (director of work related learning) first called me asking me if I would be willing to go on a trip to the Rix Centre, I first thought I was gonna meet a load of charted surveyors but she went on to explain that it was a centre within the university of east London  that does research and designing of computers, to make them more accessible to people with learning difficulties and it was called the rix centre because it was financed by lord rix who is currently in charge of mencap. I wasn’t sure what use I’d be for that trip but I thought it would make a change from the usual data inputs that day.


The trip started off as I got on the mini bus at 10:30 the students where already on there but no staff except me. One of those students happened to be an ex student at one of the schools I used to attend so I got to entertain them by impersonating my old northern geography teacher with his old quotes such as “ right you’ve lost your break!!” which got a few laughs out of them. Till Jo got on the bus and Antonio got on the bus to drive us there.




Jo explained that we had all been specially chosen and then warned one of the students that she didn’t want any cutsie squeaky voices when we got there and also then warned another student about drama queen behaviour. I suggested they continue it on the journey to get it out of their systems before they got there, she agreed.


The mental funnies continued till we finally arrived at the centre which was a very big modern building. A man came to greet us and took all of us upstairs to his room though a door where a swipe card was required to access the area. I had to borrow the man’s swipe card as the toilet was on the other side of that door and I needed to go but I managed to find the place again ok.


In that rix centre just as jo warned me there where no charted surveyors to be found. However there was a load of interesting looking computer equipment to be found and our morning task we where given was that we where split into about 3 groups to try and build a wiki website. I made a joke by saying in Bianca from easterners voice “ricky can you build me a wicked wikie website” which got a few laughs. I was paired up with another student but it was challenging as the only thing I had to put on that website was photos of an AFK trip which I didn’t go on however I did manage to come up with some silly comments underneath the picture so it was enjoyable.


We then made our way down stairs for our lunch break to the refectory I thought this was nice as there where chairs and facility’s to buy food for those who didn’t bring enough. However one of the students of objected to being made to go downstairs for her lunch and claimed she was being treated like a little kid. In my opinion I didn’t think it was treating us like kids at all, in fact it was good hospitality providing decent dining facility’s for there guests.


We enjoyed a long good lunch chatting to both the staff and the students. Then we went back upstairs only this time we where show all sorts of equipment they had come up with to make computers more accessible to disabled people. This included a joystick for those physically unable to use a mouse. There was also some impressive technology that would allow you to show it a picture of Michael Jackson and it would search for his songs as well as some software that meant you tube showed pictures instead of writing. This made computers more accessible to illiterate people.


I asked the man at that centre if he was working on anything that could help autistic people and asperger syndrome people to read the look in peoples eye, facial expressions and body language. He said he was working on something like that but didnt have anything at hand to show me. However I was impressed with their work.




We began to make our way out and we where walking past peoples classroom and the so called cutsie squeaky noises began. So I said “this is a university not a loonyversity,  so don’t interrupt the lectures of others unless you want one of your own from Jo on the mini bus journey back”. She took the hint however some found this funny but I didn’t mind that.


We made our way back onto the buss and Jo asked weather we got a lot out of that day out, the same student who complained about lunch time arrangements said she didn’t get much out of it. I couldn’t believe how ungrateful she could be considering that mencap were investing in the latest technology and a lot of IT experts for her benefit neither of which come cheap. So I pointed out that if I hadn’t been diagnosed and my parents hadn’t made sure I was placed in an appropriate school then I would have been  an illiterate person myself. One of the more advanced students said he didn’t really believe me as he thought I was a bright lad so I thanked him for the compliment.


The mental funnies started again, I made up versions of the song Golden Brown by the Stranglers about Gordon Brown, as well as many other comical things on the way back. When we arrived back at AFK I got back on with inputs I enjoyed that day as it made a big change from inputs that day.


Blogged by Richard



Aspies are the real repressed minority, particularly in some work places, and as a 27-year-old man with asperger syndrome having been in employment for the last 7 years this had been my experience of it.



I have a job in a supermarket in north London which mencap pathway assisted me with applying for when I was 20 years old.  I have been used as a scapegoat for the shortcomings of the lower management, such as inadequate training. As well as incorrect assumptions being made about me because of the fact I have a disability.



1 prime example of this was when I was working on a till serving a customer when I had a new checkout manager look over my shoulder. About 5 mins later he handed me a small envelope with a letter in it saying I was invited to an investigatory hearing in relation to poor performance regarding cheque spread procedure. Worried but at the same time intrigued I showed my parents. They both thought it was a load of nonsense and my dad even googled cheque spread procedure on the internet while me and my mum look in the supermarket’s employee hand book there was nothing referring to cheque spread procedure to be found.



My mum phoned mencap to request that they accompany me to this investigatory hearing, as they said they would support me through my course of employment there even though that has expired as I did not need any of there support for over 6 months and funding there was limited. However they did phone the manager who handed me the envelope.



On the next day at work the manager called me upstairs to his office. I showed him the letter he had handed me and I asked him what it was about. He said that “it was the fact that I had failed to check the guarantee card limit on the cheque”. Then he said to me that it didn’t matter as it had come to his attention that I am part of mencap and that he was sorry for scaring me as I looked like just a normal person to him and that the hearing was cancelled due to him being unaware I was from mencap when he had arranged it.



So I felt the need to explain to him that my mistake was made not due to fact that I was part of mencap but due to the fact that the only training I had received on the tills was the opportunity to watch someone else work on them for an hour or 2 and no one happened to pay by cheque at that time.




He then asked me if I had a business that turned over £1500 a week, how much of it would I be willing to lose to staff negligence? I replied by asking “How much does the running costs of that business equate to?” He then said “No, your business makes £1500 after the running costs and that’s £1500 in your back pocket every week. How much would you be willing to lose to staff mistakes?” So because I had studied business studies and had accountants for parents I said “so don’t you mean pre tax profits of £1500 a week rather then turnover?” He then said well he’d rather lose none of his money to staff mistakes and that the budget for that depart was F50 per week”.






He then had me wait outside as he made a phone call. I overheard a little of that phone call and it had him describing me and then saying “Are you sure it is him that is the Mencap boy? He doesn’t look like one and I’ve just been taking to him and he definitely doesn’t sound like one.” He came out of his office inviting me back in he then asked me to explain my reason for being part of Mencap ie my disability.


I then explained to him that asperger syndrome did not effect my intelligence and that I had an above average IQ, yet things like body language was like a foreign language to me and that telling people’s feelings by looking in there eyes was like encryption to me. Yet my numerical ability is in the top 5% of people and my problem solving and reasoning ability was in the top 10% of the population


He still decided that this had happened due to the fact that I had a disability and I was incapable of handling money and giving people the right change and that I was only allowed to work on the self scan rather than a till and that he would arrange training for it.


I first thought that it was ok as it meant I had no bad mark on my record and at least it get proper training and I knew about the self scan as I had worked on it before however I did not get proper training, however the only so called training I got was from a girl from eastern Europe who I found out after talking to her that she had only just joined the company that day and had only just arrived in the country that week,  and it seem as she was able to teach me as much about it as that managers 10 year old nephew could  teach him about driving his own car.


I told this experience to my mum and my mum phoned that manager up and told him that it was a demotion and that she wasn’t pleased with him so he said he’d be happy to have a meeting if mencap call him. She called mencap and mencap said they could only do something if the manager called them so I was at a stale mate. They still continued to think of me as a simpleton. That manager wanted to cover himself if higher management wanted to know about the loss if that cheque had bounced and saw my mencap membership as an opportunity to scapegoat me. He could also avoid pointing out short comings ie cutting corners with staff training, as he feared that pointing this out might effect his promotional prospects.


Blogged by Richard