Growing up, all I had ever wanted to do was be a teacher. I had the best educated teddy bears in Crawley (West Sussex).
However, two years on a teacher training course, I realised that teaching large classrooms of children wasn’t what I really enjoyed. I did have an affinity of supporting small groups. And I was asked to continue the course to specialise in supporting special needs. But it was no longer the direction I wanted to go.
Now suddenly, I had to rethink my whole career. I had a chat with a friend at Uni. She wanted to work abroad supporting charities. I thought “that could be my new vocation”, albeit in the UK. I’m a home-bunny.
Drunk people are generous!
The previous Christmas, I had spent New Year’s Eve on a fundraising venture. My best friend’s son had recently been diagnosed with autism. We decided to raise money for his specialist school. Quickly learning that drunk people are generous, we dressed up as clowns with. As a last minute edition, I was the ring master. We then trailed from pub to pub putting on our show.
At the end of the school year, the kids and teachers of the school put on a concert. At the end all the kids used Makaton Sign Language to “sing” along to Michael Jackson’s ‘We are the World’. And the audience were encouraged to join in. So, this was our pub party piece.
In some pubs, we were asked to perform more than once, so revellers could join in. We had a fabulous time and raised buckets of money for the school.
And so began my love affair with charity work.
Only some of of my charity work has been paid. Most of it has been voluntary. I’ve found it more fun that way. The pressure is off to make money. So everything you raise is a delight. But paid or not, it has been carried out with passion.
I put this charity section together in hope that my experiences give you ideas for your own charitable ventures. Below is my charity catalogue. You will also find dedicated pages to those charitable ventures which have given me most pride.
My Charity catalogue
Having decided that charity was my new career path, I needed some experience. As always, you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. So, after leaving University, I volunteered my services for six months with Scope.
When I joined Scope, they had just had a rebrand from their former name, The Spastics Society). So awareness as well as fundraising was a big drive.
I joined the South East regional office, and became their volunteer fundraiser for Kent. Their fundraiser had left, and so I was there to fill a gap. Primarily, I was tasked with arranging aerobathons, along with the odd duck race.
The experience I gained at Scope landed me my first paid charity role in Cambridge at the East Anglian Autistic Support Trust (EAST). I have written a full page on my experience at EAST as it was a formative and pivotal experience. Read More…
Meldreth Manor School (MMS)
Despite loving the work at EAST, after nearly three years, I found the pressure of fundraising had lost its appeal. But I did enjoy the IT part of the role.
This led me to a job as IT support at a Meldreth Manor School (MMS). A school (run by Scope) for profoundly disabled children. Here I got to see how the funds I had helped raise as a volunteer was directly affecting those it was raised for.
Long Road 6th Form College (LRSFC)
After leaving MMS, my life took me away from charitable ventures but still in education. My role at LRSFC did allow me to raise funds in other ways, however. Students were often forgetting passwords. So, with the Headteacher’s blessing, for each forgotten password, we encouraged a donation of £1. Each term we selected a different charity to donate to. Wood Green, EAST, Parkinson’s Support were three charities I remember that benefitted.
General Electric (GE)
Next up was GE. Technically, I was there as a technical author. However due to various internal restructuring, I often didn’t have that much to do. So, I became one of the volunteer fundraisers. At one point I think I was pretty much paid to be a volunteer (Fundraising, Chief Fire Marshal and First Aid leader). Read more…
Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue (CamSAR)
During my time at GE, I was also volunteering for CamSAR. This was and continues to be my most favourite charity. Probably because I have held a number of roles with this team. I didn’t have time to get bored! And much of what I have learned at other charities all came together to support this team. Read more…