Life as a Fundraising Intern – Week Four

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:

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.


Life as a Fundraising Intern – Video Games(Aid)

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 – Week Two

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!


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

The beach volley ball that was had by all

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.  


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

 Picture 251

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



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