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

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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

See The Difference!
07/07/2010

Just like us, you can be a pioneer…. We’re always looking for great new ways to shout about the work we do, and that’s why when we got a call from the team over at See The Difference about their new video site, we were all over it like… well… you get the idea!

A bit of background for you.  See The Difference is a brand new way to make a difference, where you can browse lots of videos and choose a charity project that means something to you (such as ours!). You’ll get to know exactly where your money is going, and then see the difference you make from the feedback each charity will give about that project. Cool, huh?! Naturally, we hope the first one you’ll check out and share with all your mates is ours! Here it is …

Action For Kids film clip on See The Difference

So, at the start of this post, we tempted you with the idea of being a pioneer like us.  We were one of the first charities in the UK to sign up to See The Difference, and you can be one of the very first people to use the site!  We’re pioneering new ground together; it’s all about team work! What we would really love for you to do, is to go mad with the Share button!  There’s a Facebook Like button so you can easily post it to the wall, or a big tweetable T for Twitter, or you can even email it to your friends if you’re feeling a bit old school.  Of course, we won’t turn you away if you want to donate as well! Check out our awesome video, let us know what you think!