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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Action For Kids Urban Beach Volleyball Tournament 2010 – a huge success!
01/07/2010

After a week of showers and constant checking of the weather forecast; the opening two teams, The Parthenon Group and Intercontinental Hotels Group stepped on to the sand for the 2nd Action For Kids Urban Beach Volleyball Tournament in the City of London –  and the sun came out! What a day it was. Fourteen teams took part in this exciting challenge to raise more that £50,000 to support children and young people with physical and learning disabilities, their families and carers in London and around the UK.

Many matches were decided on the very last point, including the thrilling final, where ICAP beat last years’ champions Mitsubishi 29-28 in the dying seconds of the game. Third placed were the team from The Intercontinental Hotels Group, with prizes also being awarded for best spike, best rally and of course best team costume, which went to The Parthenon Group in their wonderful bumble-bee outfits.

Alongside the beach volleyball, spectators were treated to an action-packed day with steel drum band music, a spectacular display of aerial skills from JustPogo UK plus demonstrations and workshops of the sport of sitting volleyball by – no less than the Great Britain team.

Click here to view a short film clip of the day (note this opens in YouTube).

We are so grateful for the support of the following teams who took part on the day: Accenture, Addleshaw Goddard, City of London Police, Herbert Smith, HSBC, ICAP, InterContinental Hotels Group, La Fosse Associates, Linklaters, Marshall Wace, Mishcon de Reya, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International and the Parthenon Group.

Also a very special thank you to our wonderful Master of Ceremonies on the day, Clayton Lucas of SGTV productions, who volunteered his time and skill, keeping the crowd advised and entertained all day.

Our thanks too to Volleyball England and The London Beach Volleyball Club for their invaluable input, JustPogo UK and Ebony Steel Band for coming along to entertain on the day and of course all our sponsors and volunteers for their funding and time which allowed us to make this event happen.

Action For Kids will be back at the Broadgate Arena next year to do it all over again. If you would like to take part in any way please call 020 8347 8111 or email beachvolleyball@actionforkids.org

Raised Bucketloads from them all at Beach Volleyball
01/07/2010

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

The beach volley ball that was had by all
24/06/2009

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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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