Towards the end of last year I was between jobs and seeking a new challenge. I was eager for a complete change to get me out of the slump i’d found myself in and I looked at volunteering as a way to gain experience in a new sector. While at university I’d done a little work with a charity on campus, Rix Research, that looks at how technology can benefit people with intellectual difficulties so I knew I wanted to do something similar.
Kith & Kids
The very first result I found on Google was for Kith & Kids, a charity that empowers and supports people with a learning disability or Autism and their families. They run year-round projects and services aimed at mentoring their members in valuable life skills, social conventions and above all allowing them to have fun in a safe, welcoming environment. I’ve been volunteering with Kith and Kids for almost a year now and at the end of every session I still come away enthralled by their creativity and positivity. There are no labels at Kith & Kids and our members are the key focus of our workshops. We cooperate and support, allowing members to make choices and take part fully in activities. We have a lot of messy fun and the enjoyment of our members is priceless. Sessions can be challenging but very rewarding, and the support from the Kith & Kids co-ordinators is second to none. A caring, collaborative ethos is encouraged within everyone and you can always feel the sense of community around you. I’ve made some of the best of friends in my fellow volunteers. Some of the on-going activities i’m involved in as a Kith & Kids volunteer include:
We hold fortnightly weekend clubs on Saturdays or Sundays at the Ermine Road Day Centre in Haringey. Each club is like a mini-project and comprises a handful of sessions run by creative workshoppers including music, art, cooking, singing, and games. Times are typically 12:30 - 17:00. Once a term we have an outing where possible and i’ve previously been to the London Transport Museum and, most recently, Camden Lock, which I wrote about recently.
We hold fortnightly choir rehearsals on Wednesdays from 19:30 at the Kith & Kids office at the Irish Centre, Tottenham, near White Hart Lane station. The choir is open to anyone - we always need new members - and we perform at the end of the social development projects. We also have an upcoming festive performance at Bond Street underground station on Monday 14th December at 5pm so do come and say hello :-D
Social Development Projects
We run Spring, Summer and Christmas projects and this year will be my second Christmas project. The Spring and Christmas projects are a week long, while the Summer project is two weeks with the weekend off in between. This year, the Christmas project is Sunday 27th - Thursday 31st December. The Spring and Christmas projects are held at Ermine Road Day Centre where we have several classrooms, kitchens and a large gym to make full use of with our parachute games. There is also a small outdoor courtyard for kicking a ball around. The Summer project is held at Northumberland Park school where we have lots of classrooms, a large canteen, atrium and playground. Projects consist of workshops - which at the school include swimming in the on-site pool - and where possible outings. We also have kitchen duty where our members help to prepare meals and wash up after we take our lunch together. Many of the parents are very involved with Kith & Kids and co-ordinate the kitchen activities. All projects culminate in an end of project show that our members help create: planning the stories and making sets during the week. It’s amazing seeing ideas that have been tossed around during the project come together as a whole on the last day.
Each term, our members plan and go on friendship outings with a pair of volunteers. I’ve previously been boating at Alexandra Palace and exploring Regents’ Park.
Every other Monday from 18:30 - 21:00 we meet at the Kith & Kids office at the Irish Centre with a small group of members for fun activities like arts and crafts, cooking, games and outings such as swimming and disco.
I went on my first Respite Weekend this year to Dell Farm Outdoor Education Centre, Whipsnade. We took a small group of members for a weekend away on the farm, preparing our own meals and doing activities like kite-making, bottle rockets and country walks. We even had time for some bowling and a visit to a local pub. The surroundings were beautiful and it was great having the animals on the farm.
Kith & Kids also run other schemes that I hope to be involved in in the near future. These include:
- Summer Camp
- Employment & Life Skills Project - supporting students with access to further education and work experience
- Kith & Kids Lifetime Advocacy Support Project (KLASP) - providing support for families with a child with learning disability or autism through advocacy and social visits.
How can I get involved?
If any of the above sounds of interest to you, and you are within reach of London, please contact Kith & Kids or, better yet, come along to our upcoming training days for our Christmas project. Time is now in short supply but the remaining dates are:
Sat 28th Nov - 10am-4.30pm
Sun 13th Dec - 11am-5.30pm
Kith & Kids ask that you take part in both days but definitely contact them to discuss. You will have to bring two forms of ID and proof of your address for a DBS check. Training and DBS Police Check Info
End of Pitch, Honest!
I hope the above has shed a little light on this amazing charity and inspired you to get involved. In closing, a documentary was filmed during this year’s Summer Project - please take a look ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCKHDn4YgA4
Do you do any volunteering or charity work? Where does your passion lie?