30 years ago, along with Anita Roddick, our co-founder and CEO Rachel Bentley visited Romania to help institutionalised children left in orphanages from the brutal Ceausescu regime. This trip marked the very beginning of Children on the Edge.
Over the years in all of our work, we have gone to places far from the media spotlight and worked with some of the most marginalised children in the world. We have partnered with local organisations, supported communities to realise their rights and ensured that children's voices are heard.
Take 10 minutes, grab a cuppa and watch our interview with Rachel to find out how Children on the Edge started, what she regards as one of her 'stand out moments', and what the edge looks like today.
We're taking a look back to our history, and will be sharing memories from our early work in the 1990's and early 2000's as part of a #ThrowbackThursday series.
In 2005 we established a Child and Community Centre in Aceh, Indonesia helping children and their community rebuild their lives after the traumas of the Asian Tsunami. The aim of the project was to start to rebuild a sense of normalcy for the children of the community. We worked with them to find local recognition and support and the project is now running independently.
Our UK Director Ben Wilkes talks about one of his best memories of working here:
“On my last day living in Aceh, Indonesia, after living and working there for 8 months on our Tsunami project, I leant against one of the buildings at the Child Friendly Space and just watched about 200 children of all ages playing and having fun; just being children.
When we arrived to work on the project, there were no children. The locals were very suspicious of us and closed to the idea of what we were trying to do.
In that moment, before leaving to fly home, I knew that undeniably Children on the Edge had made a difference. To the community, its elders and most importantly, the children who were overcoming their trauma and discovering how to be children”.
Children on the Edge continue to make a difference to the lives of thousands of vulnerable children around the world. Read more about our work and how you can support us.
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.
We're taking a look back to our history, and will be sharing memories from our early work in the 1990's and early 2000's as part of a #ThrowbackThursday series.
Rachel Bentley, our International Director describes a memory from 1999 that makes her smile:
Children on the Edge were part of the effort to help refugees from Kosovo residing in Albania during the Kosovan conflict. The people we were helping were spread out across difficult terrain, scattered across different temporary camps. It was summer and the temperature was in the high 30’s often reaching 40 degrees.
The issue all of the organisations were facing in the camps was sanitation. To prevent the spread of disease in such a setting, a solution needed to be found so that the refugees could wash themselves. They were living in remote locations with no water or facilities. Also, it was important to not spend a lot of money on building expensive infrastructure within these camps as it was likely in a few months the refugees would return home to Kosovo.
We came up with the idea of mobile shower and sanitation units. The company, Elliott helped us make these to specification, they were towed by land rovers and visited each camp every two days.
Money was not wasted on expensive infrastructure and these mobile units followed the people back to Kosovo where they were used in the village of Cabra that was completely destroyed during the war. They provided washing facilities for the community as they literally rebuilt their lives from scratch.
Our mobile shower units, providing hot showers (with on tap Body Shop shower gel!) became famous within the refugee population and many a tale was told of them long after the crisis.
It’s one of my favourite memories (and in 26 years I have a lot!) because it’s a great example of an innovative, bespoke solution to a specific problem, thinking outside of the box. As a smaller, more agile charity we were able to move fast and still rely on that skill in all of our projects today.
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
Bourne Community College student wins prestigious Diana Award for Children on the Edge fundraising efforts
Local student, Megan McCulloch, aged 16, from Bourne Community College in Southbourne has been included on a prestigious list of winners as part of the 2017 Diana Awards’ Roll of Honour, to honour her fundraising efforts for Children on the Edge.
Megan was jointly nominated by Children on the Edge and the school for leading their Charity Committee to raise £1,471 throughout 2015-2016 with a range of different fundraising activities.
The Diana Awards are set up to celebrate and reward exceptional young people who embody Princess Diana’s qualities of kindness, compassion and service. To celebrate Princess Diana’s Birthday this 20th Anniversary year, the 2017 Roll of Honour, which included Megan's name, was announced over the weekend.
Megan said: “I cannot express how honoured I feel to have been given the opportunity to help those less fortunate than myself. It was a pleasure to lead a team of great students. I have been inspired and supported by an outstanding member of staff who guided me through my journey of fundraising and leadership - I am filled with joy at becoming a Diana Award winner!”
Fundraising Manager at Children on the Edge, Eloise Armstrong said: “Megan has been a fantastic ambassador for Children on the Edge within Bourne Community College. We have been impressed by her pro-active leadership; innovative fundraising ideas and her communication with our fundraising staff. As a small charity, the impact of Megan’s fundraising has been significant and timely, enabling us to provide ‘on the edge’ safe spaces and education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Rohingya refugee children fleeing Burma and living in Bangladesh.”
Megan managed all aspects of the relationship between us and the school; arranging visits and presentations from the Children on the Edge staff team, coordinating the fundraising events, and delivering assemblies to share the impact of the total money raised.
Megan brought leadership and energy in her role as chair of Bourne Community College’s charity committee and committed time each week to bring together a team representing all year groups. She coordinated all year round fundraising which included a school-wide sports day featuring unique sports played in the countries where we work. As well as the Easter “Children on the Egg” challenge.
The money raised by Megan and the school can help provide education in an informal tented school in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon for eight Syrian refugee children for a whole year.
Children on the Edge rely completely on voluntary donations and receives no institutional or government funding for their programme in Lebanon, which makes this support all the more vital for the charity during the worsening refugee crisis in Syria.
Phil Harper, Student Voice Coordinator said: “I have loved seeing Megan grow in her leadership skills. She knew how to lead staff and students with enthusiasm and purpose. I now feel genuine pride at Megan's achievements and the young person she has become - courageous, resilient and compassionate.”
Head Teacher, Yvonne Watkins said: "All of us at Bourne Community College are delighted with the Diana Award for Megan. She has worked tirelessly as Chair of our Charity Group. She is an exceptional young student, embodying all the qualities of kindness, compassion and service that are reflected in the Diana Award. She has worked selflessly, always aiming to inspire and motivate other students and staff to raise awareness and money for those less fortunate than themselves. She truly deserves this wonderful Diana Award.”
Megan will collect her Award at a special Ceremony later this year.
The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action. Today The Diana Award has the support of both her sons The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
All the award winners – who come from every region in the UK and USA, Canada, UAE, India, Belize, Australia, Greece, Indonesia, Croatia, Liberia, Jersey, New Zealand, Indonesia and Liberia – have had a monumental impact on society and lives of those in their communities. Many of them only know Princess Diana as a historical figure but they carry the honour of the Diana Award with pride and admiration for whose memory it was set up in.
Would your school like to fundraise for Children on the Edge? Find out more here or contact our Fundraising Officer, Amy Rook.
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
When we say we bring hope, life, colour and fun to the lives of vulnerable children, it’s 'hope' that kicks off the list, and with good reason. Hope is the cornerstone of what we believe is vital for children living in desperate situations, because it’s all about change.
Hope could be seen as a fluffy, sentimental term; something to inspire a kind of 'sunshiny' feeling about helping children, but we think it’s the opposite.
Children that live in the situations where we are working don’t need something fluffy, they need something revolutionary. These are children facing war, persecution, poverty and injustice and in the current political climate, the need is not abating. Nationalism is on the rise, compassion is fatigued and barriers are growing.
In her book, ‘Hope in the Darkness’, Rebecca Solnit says that ‘Hope is an act of defiance… the alternative is surrender, which abandons not only the future, but the soul’. At present, our work with children living on the edges of their societies is more vital than ever, and it works in defiance of the status quo that marginalises children on the basis of their race, caste, class or ethnic minority.
In October an 65, 000 Rohingya refugees fled horrific human rights abuses in Myanmar, joining the masses of refugees already in Bangladesh, who have been fleeing government persecution for over a decade. It’s here we are providing education for 2,700 Rohingya children in a makeshift refugee camp.
Late last year, an 8 year old Dalit girl in Bihar State, India was beaten by a group of men when she dared to say that she could be a magistrate or the chief of police one day. It’s here that we are supporting education and non-violent activism to tackle ingrained caste discrimination and help ‘untouchable’ children realise their rights.
Currently, the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda is still going unreported and there are gaps in legislation enabling perpetrators to go free. It is here that we are working with a Ugandan child rights group, and the government to address the problem, whilst expanding our child protection teams in communities.
Hope is an act of defiance which often begins in the margins of society. Going forward we will highlight how it motivates action and inspires both rapid transformation and long term evolution.
Read our latest blog: 'How hope is a catalyst for action and ownership'