Fergus Deery, Admissions Assistant in the Graduate Admissions Office at LSE, volunteered with Kith & Kids over the Christmas break. Read on to find out more about his experiences and why not become a volunteer for Kith & Kids if it inspired you to volunteer?

Focusing on abilities

Since 1969, North-London-based charity Kith & Kids have- in their own words- been supporting disability, but focusing on abilities. Every year, their team of Coordinators and Volunteers support and collaborate with Members on a and variety of projects and adventures both within and beyond the bounds of London.

All of the charity’s Members have either learning, physical, or sensory disabilities; some of which are moderate, others of which are profound and multifarious. But, without exception, Kith & Kids challenges its Members to brave new experiences, cultivate new skills, and challenge and re-affirm their sense of identity and ambition along the way.

Participating in the Christmas Project

Having undertaken my (free) two-day training course with the charity back in November, I was invited to participate in their iconic Christmas Project in the days between Christmas and New Year. Ordinarily, the final week of the calendar week had been reserved for watching unreasonable amounts of football, eating unreasonable amounts of food, and visiting an unreasonable amount of pubs. But the people I met during training, and their unflinchingly enthusiastic accounts of previous Christmas Projects was enough to sway me towards spending this year’s holiday differently.

Pints,  acting, & presenting

Which is not to say I missed out on the pub. The Member that I was assigned to support- a hugely popular Kith & Kids stalwart called Marc*- insisted that rather than spending our designated outing budget on theme parks, cinemas, or bowling alleys, he wanted to take the Overground to Liverpool Street Station, spend some time admiring the trains, and then retreat to somewhere warm for quiet pints.

This was, without doubt, the most peaceful moment of a week which saw us write and produce an hour-long play from scratch; play, sing, and even compose songs; learn and practice the art of massage therapy; and give small presentations about what professions we would like to take up in the future.

Having fun whilst having an impact

Renouncing such orthodox choices as Policeman, Teacher, and Ambulance Driver, Marc insisted that he wanted to be Bradley Walsh from ITV quiz-show The Chase. Whether or not Bradley Walsh is ok with this is a question for another day; but what was certain is that Marc’s terrific sense of humour, and broader lust for life in the face of significant adversity made for a hugely enjoyable and energising week on my part.

The other Volunteer’s echoed these sentiments when I asked them about their time spent with their Members. And, most importantly of all, the Members themselves seemed to have a hugely informative, rewarding, and enjoyable week.

Clearly, the Members’ complex care needs do not simply vanish over the course of a week’s activities in a community centre in Hornsey. But it does distract them from the frustrations and anxieties of every day life, however fleetingly. And in a world in which no one is exempt from frustrations nor anxieties, the Project seemed to be an equally welcome distraction for the Volunteers, all of whom vowed to sign up to more clubs and projects as soon as possible.

Want to get involved? Get in touch!

The next Project will run from 3-7 April, and Kith & Kids also have a bi-monthly Weekend Clubs in South Tottenham. You can find more about these opportunities on LSE CareerHub. If you would like to find out more about upcoming events and projects, and how to get involved, Kith & Kids would love to hear from you at projects@kithandkids.org.uk.

And if you would like to know more about my personal, overwhelmingly positive first experience with this charity, I would be delighted to answer your questions via f.deery@lse.ac.uk.

*name has been changed for confidentiality

Did Fergus inspire you to volunteer?

If Fergus inspired you to volunteer you can take a look at the current opportunities that Kith & Kids are offering. You can also check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. And why not follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.