17 year old Abby Brooks has spent a week in our Chichester office on work experience. She’s written a blog about her week with us...
I am a student at nearby, Bishop Luffa Sixth Form and I’m studying A Levels in geography, media and maths. Throughout the year in my human geography lessons I touched on topics such as border control issues and refugees which sparked a strong passion and interest within me, inspiring me to learn more. I have set myself a goal to study International Development at University as I believe it will be the stepping stone in finding a career that combines my interest in Human Geography with my passion for charity.
When my school offered the opportunity of a week of work experience I began to research local international charities and was surprised when I came across Children on the Edge right on my doorstep. As most international charities are located in London, I was delighted when they allowed me to join them in the office for a week, as I knew it was an exciting and rare opportunity to find out how a charity is run and gain some vital experience.
I was warmly welcomed by the COTE team on Monday morning and given an interesting and insightful introduction of the charity’s history and current projects. I learnt about the different roles within the office and how each member of the team contributes to the smooth operation of the charity. This opened my eyes to the range of jobs available within a charity organisation, including roles that I had never heard of before such as Operations Manager - who makes sure all the work is kept legal.
Throughout the rest of the day I generally helped with tasks in the office such as sorting through old video tapes of previous COTE projects footage and transferring them onto DVD disks for easier storage. I also explored the COTE website and created a document answering questions such as how easy it was to navigate and suggesting improvements.
Tuesday began with creating thank you letters to local shops and businesses who kindly donated prizes for COTE’s tombola at Priory Park Festival; I was able to not only write the letters but also hand deliver them which I enjoyed as I was representing the charity and got to personally thank the generous businesses in our community. Other tasks included documenting the COTE’s search results to give them an idea of how easy it is to find their website online, and to update the press page on their website by taking press clippings.
The highlight of the week was Wednesday, as I was given the opportunity to sit in a ‘COMMs’ meeting where the team updated one another and planned for upcoming events. A clip about one of COTE’s projects in India was shown and I learnt about the ‘Untouchable’ Dalit children. This really impacted me and made me fully realise the extent to which the help of this charity is desperately needed. I was then set an exciting challenge by my supervisor Amy, to create a presentation which could be used in encouraging other schools to fundraise for Children on the Edge.
I spent the rest of Wednesday and Thursday creating a power point presentation, following their brand image which I really enjoyed as I could express my passion for media and design, as well as broadening my own knowledge and understanding of the charity in the process.
On Friday, to conclude the week I was able to present my presentation to the team which was beneficial as it developed my presenting skills and confidence when speaking to an audience.
Overall my week with Children on the Edge has been impacting and inspiring, as I have expanded my knowledge of international issues through researching COTE’s projects in India, Bangladesh, Uganda, Burma and Lebanon.
Learning how an organisation can reach the children on the very edge of society and change their lives has further encouraged me to study international development at University and hopefully work for an international charity in the future.
Find out how you can volunteer with Children on the Edge
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
his week, from the 1st - 7th June is national Volunteers Week, an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.
We wanted to take the opportunity to thank our amazing volunteers for everything they do to help us here at Children on the Edge.
What do they do to help?
In our UK office in Chichester, we rely on our regular troop of committed volunteers who help us keep things ticking over. From making trips to the bank, sorting out t-shirts and other fundraising materials, popping to the post office, helping with general admin or supporting staff with specific projects or pieces of work; our office volunteers provide vital weekly support for Children on the Edge.
At local events, our volunteers are a huge help and enable us to do so much more than we could do otherwise. Last Christmas, many people came forward to help us sell ‘Season of Hope’ gift wrap at a number of local Christmas Fayres. All helping us raise money to support our projects abroad.
Our annual events like the Chichester Half Marathon which takes place in October and raises thousands of pounds for Children on the Edge, simply could not and would not, take place without the commitment and dedication of our local team of helpers. From our enthusiastic marshals who keep participants safe and going in the right direction, to volunteers who distribute water, medals and goody bags, to those who help us set up and pack up the race village; all make this event possible.
Could you sign up to help at the Chichester Half Marathon in 2017?
Emily Dadson, our Office Manager says “At the heart of all we do we are children on the edge – abandoned, forgotten, ignored. Our volunteers understand this vision and purpose and so become very much part of the COTE team. Their practical input is invaluable, but also their wisdom, thoughts and ideas. We listen and learn and gain so much more from having them work alongside us. They genuinely add value to our tasks and our gratitude to them is huge. I hope we say thank you enough – but just in case we don’t, here are our thanks – in black and white – from all of us to all of you. You know who you are!”
These days we only take volunteers abroad very rarely. It’s not an experience the public can apply for or buy into. We’re a small charity and want to put all our resources and time into making sure the children we work with have the very best provision. Large scale volunteer programmes don’t really fit with this strategy, but once a year, we do take a small group of volunteers and fundraisers from The Body Shop at Home™ as well as other corporate partners who tirelessly raise money for our work throughout the year, to one of our projects. Most recently, this has been to Uganda, for our annual Playscheme.
What do our volunteers say?
Justine is the owner of Mia Bella Casa in Rustington and has given a phenomenal amount of time to Children on the Edge over the years.
She says "I have been a supporter of Children on the Edge for many years. I worked for The Body Shop and we were did a lot of fundraising for them. Back in December 2010 I was made redundant, knew I wanted to spend a few months volunteering and decided to go to Children on the Edge.
I helped organise the flagship event, the Easter Trail and the Chichester Half Marathon for 2 years running. I loved it, the team are fabulous, but just knowing that you are giving something back to the community and helping children whose lives are in such turmoil makes it so worthwhile. It's also a chance to learn new skills."
Just last month this year’s volunteer team came back from our annual Playscheme in Uganda. Claire, who joined us as a volunteer from The Body Shop at Home™ 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".
Walter Jones is a retired Headmaster who has been giving his valuable time and skills to Children on the Edge for the past few years. He says “Having done some travelling in South East Asia, I was very aware of the huge number of children living on very little in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma and Thailand. When I realised that Children on the Edge existed to help these very children, I was keen to volunteer to help. In the last couple of years I have spoken at school assemblies, shaken a bucket at the railway station, given a presentation at a day centre, not to mention dished out water at the Chichester Half Marathon. There are office chores as well – but the cause is such a good one that routine tasks are not a great burden. I strongly recommend Children on the Edge!”.
If you’d like to join us as volunteer, take a look at our current opportunities here.
We are currently looking for volunteers to help at the Priory Park Festival in Chichester on the 7th, 8th & 9th of July as well as at the famous Chichester Half Marathon on the 8th October 2017. Find out more and sign up.
If you have any questions about volunteering at Children on the Edge, please email Emily Dadson, our Office Manager, or call 01243 538530.
We're currently looking for a Trusts and Foundations Research Volunteer to help us for 1 day a week for 3 - 6 months in our offices in Chichester, West Sussex. Could you help? Or maybe you know someone who can?
Volunteering with Children on the Edge is a great way to support real and lasting change to the lives of vulnerable children. If you're looking for a career change, or a are a student or graduate who would like to get into International Development, then this volunteer role is a perfect opportunity to gain some valuable hands-on experience in the sector. Our own staff know only too well, that this type of experience can make a huge difference when applying for jobs with NGOs in the UK or abroad. As a small organisation, you will get the chance to really get 'stuck in' with our work, and understand what we do and how we do it.
As Trusts and Foundations volunteer, you will spend time researching trusts, foundations and any other potential funding opportunities for Children on the Edge, from within the UK, Europe and internationally. You will be directly supporting our Grants Officer, Sarah, who makes applications to funders, reports on all our projects around the world and brings in vital funding for our work. By supporting Sarah, you will be making a direct difference to the lives of vulnerable children around the world and helping to ensure our projects are successfully funded.
As part of the role, you will develop an in depth understanding of Children on the Edge and our work around the world and for the right person, there is scope to write small funding applications and project reports.
You can find out more about the role and exactly what's involved in the Role Description.
Who are we looking for?
We are looking for an organised, methodical and enthusiastic individual, educated to A-level standard or higher. You'll need to have a basic understanding of, and an interest in the work of Children on the Edge, International Development and fundraising.. With excellent written and verbal communication skills, attention to detail and a proficiency in Word/Pages, Excel/Numbers and internet search engines, you'll be able to organise your work and use your own initiative and nouse to research potential funding opportunities. We'd love you to have an understanding of and some experience in using databases (e.g. Salesforce), but we can show you the ropes if not.
We'll provide plenty of support to get you started; and our lovely team in Chichester are great at making tea and providing biscuits to keep you sustained while you're with us. Our two office dogs, Otto and Monty will also make you feel welcome, especially around lunch time!
The nitty gritty
If you are interested in this role, please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter outlining how you fit the qualities and skills outlined in the role description before midday on 9th June 2017 to:
Sarah Collinson, Grants Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd an informal chat about the role, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or email Sarah Collinson on 01243 538530 | email@example.com