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.

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

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

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

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

desk

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

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

Blogged by Richard

DISCRIMINATION NATION
25/02/2009

 

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.

 

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”.

 

 

money1

 

 

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