Are you interested in hardworking local charities and the great things they do? Read the first of Luke Cameron’s blog posts. He won the Nicest Job in Britain in November 2014 and got straight to work helping small charities with new employer UA. Here he talks about a busy start, learning about autism and helping London charities get exposure through social media. Next week, Luke visits another part of the UK.
My Christmas was pretty much non-stop with the amount of exposure and publicity that my Good Deed Diary generated. I fast approached my 365th good deed after challenging myself to do one every day of 2014.
I hit the ground pretty much running and began the Nicest Job in Britain, an initiative by UA of which I was the successful candidate to win the job.
My first week as National Philanthropy Manager saw me waking up in the centre of Birmingham, ready to start my first day with my new company. The week was a whirlwind of getting to know the services that UA provide and meeting the team. I picked up my new car on Thursday and headed home, ready to get some rest to start my second week with the Nicest Job.
My second week started at British Gas in Leicester. I headed over to the British Gas office and met with the marketing team about this blog. I then headed up to Glasgow to meet UA’s Scottish team and find out about all the work they do for charities in Scotland. I was so inspired to see the amazing work that UA do across the country, from helping community centres to invoice validation that has saved over £400,000 for charities last year alone!
The first charity I met was Resources for Autism in north London. An incredible small charity that provides personal care for children and adults with autism . On my first day I attended an art class for adults with a challenging level of autism. I didn’t really know what to expect and as a result I did feel slightly apprehensive. It was a real eye opener and made me smile. An amazing experience and working with these lovely people made me realise that they are just like the rest of us, except they battle their own issues through their learning disabilities.
The rest of the week saw me attending a range of workshops and play classes, and also helping the head office team with their social strategy. I managed to get their social media up to scratch and added a few more thousand views to their amazing YouTube video, Meet Conor.
My second charity was Bag Books who produce multi-sensory learning aids for profoundly disabled children. I spent my week in their south London workshop helping the craft staff make and produce the amazing learning aids. They are called multi-sensory storybooks and are basically big storyboards that allow the children to touch and feel the story, making them more involved.. From seaweed and shells on a board to knitted ice creams that have a strawberry smell; they are all made to involve the children in the story.
On the Tuesday I helped sort out the charity’s database of special schools in the UK which stock their books. They are in around 85% of the special schools in the country and their books provide a vital part of learning.
As well as making and providing the books they also have a team of professional storytellers who travel the country doing story-telling workshops for children with learning disabilities. These amazing people set up sessions to tell the fun stories to children in schools, libraries and community centres, giving the full sensory experience.
Bag Books were incredibly lucky to get a 3-year lottery grant, something I have come to learn is an extremely rare thing. But with that comes its own headache. Like a double-edged sword, when a charity gets that profound level of funding it can change their world. But they can really struggle when that funding ends.
Fundraising is vital to every charity, but even more so to the smaller ones. It’s why it is so important that smaller charities get as much exposure as possible. They really benefit from every single pound donated, because when big funding runs out, they don’t have anywhere else to turn.