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 – Video Games(Aid)
11/02/2013

Life as a Fundraising Intern is proving to be as busy and insightful as ever. Reflecting on the events of this week, there has been lots to get involved with and a great deal more to learn from.

Monday afternoon saw the arrival of a number of Action For Kids beneficiaries, as well as a selection of representatives from the games industry charity Games Aid. This is because, following their extremely generous donation in support of our charity and our work last year, they were keen to return, finding out more about the work we do in aid of our young people and how their money was making a difference. It was lovely to become re-acquainted with some familiar faces I had the chance to meet at a previous GamesAid event, while also being introduced to some new people, and getting to know more about them.

All in all, there were a total of three beneficiaries, all present in order to be featured in this year’s GamesAid video. One particular beneficiary was a bright, bubbly, out-going, and chatty young girl with Down’s Syndrome who had beautifully coiffed hair and a natural affinity for a camera. I was also asked to partake in the filming, as I have been a beneficiary of the charity in the past, knowing only too well the difference that being provided with life-changing equipment can make. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking of the ways that this unique charity has impacted my life, being able to converse and share stories. Then there was George, an incredibly adorable, inquisitive and clever two-year old little boy, who although camera shy seemed very pleased with his new equipment provided by Action For Kids. George’s ‘Whizzybug’ was an eye-catching, pillar-box red electronic chair, complete with a child-friendly design featuring a set of wide, friendly eyes positioned exactly where the headlights would be on a car. It was great to watch George play and interact with his twin brother; while witnessing the mutual amount of love and admiration they held for one another.

A selection of GamesAid representatives, alongside some Action For Kids beneficiaries and staff.

Proof of a great afternoon spent with representatives from GamesAid.

Listening to George’s mum talk of the difference that the new chair has made to her family’s life was incredibly special, putting into perspective the great work that GamesAid helps the charities it supports to achieve. Being given a sense of independence is invaluable, and in providing equipment to both George and all the other families that Action For Kids helps, it is clear that they are not only giving them real freedom, but also the freedom to realise their potential; helping them to triumph over the challenges that having a disability may present.

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!

Life as a Fundraising Intern – Week One
05/10/2012

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

Lord Mayor Show 2011, by Ben
17/11/2011

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
14/07/2011

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
07/06/2011

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.

MORE BOOZE AND BARBECUES BUT NO MORE BERYLS LUNCH TIME BLUES
21/10/2010

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

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