On July 16th, Christine Smith, who works for The Body Shop At Home took part in the Windmill Half Marathon in Lytham for Children on the Edge.
Christine raised £100 - all helping to support our work with vulnerable children around the world. £100 is enough to cover the costs of educating 100 Syrian refugee children at one of our tented schools in Lebanon for a day.
It was Christine's first ever half marathon, she said "it's safe to say that training didn't go to plan so I kind of 'winged it' on the day but absolutely loved it, mentally (although I'm not sure my body felt the same way as I crossed he finishing line!)".
She explains why she chose to fundraise for Children on the Edge:
"As a Consultant with The Body Shop at Home, Children on the Edge is a charity close to my heart and I follow their activities closely. I like to do something additional to the general fundraising I do at Body Shop parties each year. My children have done things like carol singing around our estate and 'Iron Kids' and last year I did the Yorkshire 3 Peaks".
Christine started running in January last year but got out of the habit during the summer holidays, so she was determined that this year she would do more than a 10k. Inspired by an unplanned 10 mile run, she signed up to the Windmill Half Marathon that night. She said: "I knew that doing it for charity would keep me motivated when training".
We asked Christine what was the best and hardest part of taking on the Windmill Half Marathon:
"The best part was without a doubt the sense of achievement and the camaraderie of the other runners - everyone really encouraged each other. The hardest was when my hip started complaining around the half way mark and the change in position to go downhill on the last stretch caused pain that quite literally took my breath away. It wouldn't put me off doing it again though!"
When asked what she'd say to someone else thinking about fundraising for Children on the Edge she said:
"Just do it. It doesn't have to be huge and every little helps".
Would you like to fundraise for Children on the Edge by taking on a personal challenge, like a walk, run or cycle? Find out more.
This time last year, we'd just returned from our first ever playscheme in Loco slum, Uganda. We began working with this community in January 2016 and last years' playscheme was a way for us to introduce ourselves to the local community. We organised a week of activities with the COTE Africa team for local children, and we returned in May 2017 to do the same again.
Our staff and volunteers have just returned from this years' playscheme and were blown away by the transformation from last year. Sarah Collinson who ran the playscheme with the help of three The Body Shop at Home volunteers, said:
"This years playscheme showed us how much progress is happening week by week in Loco. The work of our Child Protection Teams, the new Early Childhood Development Centre offering education to the most vulnerable young children, and the work of all the COTE Africa staff has made such a huge difference compared to just a year ago. This was particularly clear in how quickly the children adapted to games and lessons; treated each other with kindness; and showed vital awareness about keeping safe and clean. This is a testament to all the training and support that is going on behind the scenes for the past year".
In January 2016, the people in Loco said they had no hope. Unemployment and income poverty had left households vulnerable and their children were prone to exploitation, malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse. The Chairman of our Child Protection Team (CPT) in Loco, said “People here have had many organisations come and start things and then go, promise things and then disappoint, they didn’t believe things could change”.
But ten local people were trained up to work in their area as part of the CPT, to educate people about child protection and support them to create a protective environment. A year on we have the full participation of local people, not only the CPT volunteers but also parents getting involved with education, mothers creating new businesses to pay for their children to go to school and local services engaging with the Loco community to create a better environment for children. We also built a brand new Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) to offer early years education for some of the most vulnerable children in the community.
The Chairman of the CPT now describes how “People see workshops, they see a team that deals with their problems, they see a drop in domestic violence and crime, they see their children on a playscheme and a new Early Childhood Development Centre being built, and it gives them hope. These things have never happened in Loco. Hope is knowing things can change”.
The transformation in the community was obvious at this year's playscheme. For example, the children were much better behaved than last year, where we saw a lot of competition for toys and activities between the children. But this year, the older children were looking out for the younger children on the playscheme, ensuring they were safe and able to take part in the activities fairly.
Last year, serious health problems emerged in the community during the playscheme, and our team adapted the activities to include a full day’s training on health and hygiene with songs about hand washing and puppet shows on keeping clean and safe from illness. This year, it was clear that health and hygiene are now fully engrained with the children who understand why this is so important. The children are now quick to wash their hands before eating their daily porridge; running to the queue at the tap to wash meticulously with soap whilst singing "this is the way we wash our hands" song.
Other aspects of sanitation had also vastly improved this year. All the children understood the importance of using the bathroom facilities and made sure they washed their hands after going to the toilet. This is something that ECD Centre staff take very seriously, checking the children as they leave the toilet and sending them back to wash their hands if they aren't wet!
Sarah said: "The COTE Africa Team are running another playscheme in December, and I know they are going to see more signs of transformation with the children. Things change so quickly when the community work together and as our other work, like the education loans get more and more established, everyone is looking forward to see the difference made in Loco".
Read more about our work in Uganda
Read more about this years' playscheme
In May 2016, we organised our first ever playscheme in Loco; a community we had just begun to work with. The playscheme offered a week full of hope, life, colour and fun for the children of Loco and gave us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community, especially the children.
We've just returned from our second successful playscheme this year, where we saw such a dramatic transformation compared to just one year ago. The most obvious physical transformation was our brand new Early Childhood Development Centre, which opened last year, and provided the bright and colourful space we needed for morning lessons. But the difference in the children was huge.
Read more about the transformation of this local community, all made possible thanks to your support.
Hosted by Children on the Edge Africa, with volunteers from The Body Shop At Home™, this year's playscheme was attended by over 300 excited children. They enjoyed a week of fun activities, from storytelling, football, three-legged races, drawings, crafts, music and parachute games. The highlight of the week for most of the children is the bouncy castle which was set up on Friday morning.
Every day involved structured educational classes for younger and older children in our ECD Centre in the morning, with the afternoon set aside for fun and games. Each day had a different focus: Monday was literacy; Tuesday was numeracy; Wednesday was the environment; Thursday was storytelling and Friday, well Friday, was bouncy castle day, with music, dancing and face painting!
Led by the ECD teachers and COTE Africa staff; with support from The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers, the children were taught counting songs; read story books; learnt about their local environment; made musical instruments and learnt about personal safety by identifying 'safe' and 'unsafe' places or objects in their local area. The 'Hungry Caterpillar' proved a very popular story for the younger children, with the older children enjoying 'Handa's Surprise'.
The week was a huge success. And for our The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers, Sophie, Hayley and Claire, the playscheme had a particularly powerful impact on them:
Sophie said "I want to say a massive thank you for allowing me to be part of a team who has made life changing experiences from day one not just for the children of Loco but also for myself. I was enabled to do activities I wouldn't normally do and really enjoyed myself, especially hearing the children laugh and seeing them smile. I never knew the full extent of what Children On The Edge do as we don't see behind the scenes but now I can explain to everyone I see with more passion in my heart to get the word out what you guys really do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart x".
Hayley said "What an experience being a volunteer for the 2017 playscheme! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to try things I wouldn't usually do. I've learnt so much in such a short space of time and have memories I will treasure for a lifetime. From the second we landed in Entebbe to the moment we stepped back into England I was enchanted by the people I've met, the places I've seen and the phenomenal work Children On The Edge continue to do. Thank you for a truly life changing experience!"
Claire said: "I've had such an amazing experience with a fantastic group of people. It was completely humbling and we met some wonderful people, both young and old, I didn't want to leave. Seeing what Children on the Edge has done for the communities in Uganda first hand has been a real eye opening experience, and makes you appreciate what you have at home a little more. From the results this fantastic charity have achieved so far, it definitely proves you get better results with honey than vinegar. I feel more informed about the work Children on the Edge do and more confident to advocate on their behalf now. Thank you for allowing me to share this amazing experience with you".
The Body Shop At Home™ volunteers who joined us this year are all consultants or Managers who fundraise tirelessly for Children on the Edge. Along with colleagues at The Body Shop™ and The Body Shop At Home™, they provide vital financial support for our work with vulnerable children, especially in Uganda.
On Saturday 6th February, staff members Ben and Eloise travelled up to Telford, with two amazing volunteers, Jill and Helen, for The Body Shop At Home™️ February Conference. Here we raised a record breaking £16,000 in just one day!
Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this happen; this money will go such a long way to help support our work in Uganda and beyond.
The Body Shop®️ are a big part of Children on the Edge's history. The late Dame Anita Roddick founded Children on the Edge in 1990, after witnessing the appalling conditions in Romanian orphanages. Today, more than 25 years later, we are proud and humbled by the continual support from The Body Shop®️ around the world.
The Body Shop At Home™️ are a huge part of that support, and their incredible consultants and staff do not stop in their efforts to support Children on the Edge. Twice a year, we get to meet these wonderful fundraisers in Telford, at their bi-annual Conference. This February was no different, and our team from Chichester went up to sell Goody Bags with products generously donated by Revolution in Kindness (formerly The Body Shop Foundation), and raffle tickets with the help of our 'Champions' for Children on the Edge. As a result, we raised a whopping £16,000 for our work with vulnerable children around the world.
This total is more than we have ever raised at one if these Conference's before, and all the team at Children on the Edge are completely blown away by the generosity and support of The Body Shop At Home™️ staff and consultants, plus those at The Body Shop®️ UK and Revolution in Kindness (formerly The Body Shop Foundation). Thank you so much.
Not only that, Consultants broke records too! Through raffles, party sales, challenge events and countless other fundraising ideas; regional The Body Shop At Home™️ teams fundraise throughout the year for Children on the Edge. This year 7 out of 10 regions hit their fundraising targets, and overall, the teams from across the UK raised a phenomenal £83,898.....£13 898 above their target! Our Executive Director, Ben was thrilled to announce this incredible achievement to the teams on the day. We can't wait to see what the Consultants can do in 2017 and we've set an ambitious fundraising target of £85, 000. We're confident they can reach it!
Supporting our work in Uganda
A popular part of the Conference is when Children on the Edge get to update on our work and how all the money raised through The Body Shop At Home™️ goes to help our work with vulnerable children abroad.
Just a year ago, Ben had just returned from Uganda, where he visited Loco slum. He saw the desperate conditions and spoke to the people who lived there; who had no hope for a better future. Domestic violence was rife, and conditions, especially for children, were appalling. Last February, we asked the Body Shop At Home™️ to help us do something about it.
What a difference a year makes
Just a year later, thanks to their support, so much has changed in Loco for the better. Our Child Protection Teams have been training people on abuse, parenting, crime, human rights and many other issues. Domestic violence has now dropped dramatically.
Bikes and loudspeakers have been distributed to enable the Child Protection Teams reach help quickly, report emergencies to the police and alert the community of anyone posing a threat to children. In September, we opened a new Early Childhood Development Centre to help educate some of the most vulnerable young children. This has proved a huge success in just a few months of opening.
We told the conference about Daniel and his mother Annet. A year ago, Daniel and his siblings couldn't go to school. They had to go 'picking' for scraps and plastic everyday to try and find enough to sell. But after Children on the Edge gave his mother Annet, a loan of around £20, she has been able to set up a business selling fish; earning her and her family around £2 a day. Daniel and his siblings no longer have to go 'picking' and can go to school. He says "I am happy as a child and for that, I thank everyone". His mother Annet says "What gives me hope is that the community children are going to school. They are the next generation so at the end of it all their foundation will be a firm one".
With the support, kindness and generosity of The Body Shop At Home™️ , we have been able to do so much to transform the lives of the people living in Loco over the past year. But there is so much more we want to do. Our focus for the next year will be on education. Will you help us?
If you're a The Body Shop At Home™️ Consultant and want some help with fundraising ideas, please get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01243 538530.
If you'd like to make a one-off or regular donation to support our work, please donate here.