ELSP blog

The ELSP Blog

21/10/11
Introduction

Welcome dear surfer of the internet! This is a blog about Kith & Kids’s Self Advocacy Group. Every week, we will be reporting on the doings of the adults who are supported by Kith & Kids. Our activities include fundraising and awareness raising once a week (of which this blog is a part), social evenings once a fortnight during term time (which alternate between evenings in, organized by our lovely co-ordinator Alex, and evenings out, organized by us), and residential projects three times a year, when we leave London for three or four days, and stay in specialized accommodation; We do our own cooking and cleaning, and have workshops, of which some are run by Alex (these are on a theme, such as communication, awareness of each others’ and our own disabilities, and sex education), and some we organize ourselves (past ones include fun physics, various art & craft sessions, and sports).

Our group consists of young adults, most of whom have autism, and some have a learning disability. We have a diverse range of interests, such as wrestling, philosophical discussions, and songwriting, and collecting taxidermy. Despite having disabilities, we have vibrant discussions within the group, we use the group to extend our social lives and skill sets, and we have achieved many things such as parachute jumping (to raise money for the group), living independently, performing songs on stage, and travelling around the world.
This blog will be weekly, and will introduce different members of the group, as well as reporting on our activities. Enjoy!

Rose Way, member of the SA Group


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

This blog can now be viewed on WordPress as wwll. Go to:
www.kithandkids.wordpress.com


18/5/12
#19: Upcoming Activities

Blimey – it’s all coming together! Recall that we made ambitious plans for this term a few weeks ago. Well, we have now set dates for much of these activities.

We will continue to sell the artwork I blogged about at the end of last year. We will be at Camden Lock Market on Wednesday 23 May, from 9 to 5, and at Tottenham Carnival on Saturday 23 June. We will also have a stall at the “Love Cake, Eat Cake” event – for more info, www.kithandkids.org.uk/latest-news/

Another activity that will be continuing from last year is our collections at Tube stations. Keep an eye out for our hi-vis bibs at Euston, Walthamstow, and Waterloo soon!

There will be fun and games, too! Five of us – including me – will be doing a sponsored bike ride along the River Lea, whereas Stephen will be swimming – both in June. Also, we have started running yoga and zumba classes in The Irish Centre on Friday afternoons, which are open to all.

Lastly, we will be washing cars at The Irish Centre on Wednesday 13 June, between 11:00 and 2:30. If your car could do with a clean, come along and support us!

Rose


25/4/12
#17: We’re Back!

It’s been too long, hasn’t it? Personal circumstances have meant that I have been unable to update this blog in recent months. But it’s a new term now, which I intend to spend happily blogging away! And I’m not the only one…

Last week, we had our first fundraising session of the term, which we spent planning what we are going to do. In previous terms, we have all done (more or less) the same thing. Thus, if there was a collection at a train station, everyone in the group would be there, in shifts. If we were making artwork, all of us would muck in. But is this the best approach? Different members have different interests, as well as strengths and weaknesses. I am valued for my work on this blog, for example, but put me at the entrance to a Tube station with a collection tin, and my social anxiety kicks in, and I seize up, standing there like a lemon, not getting any money. On the other hand, some members take to this activity like a duck to water. Therefore, Alex has decided to take a more scattergun approach this term.

The various activities that need to be done – such as making artwork, carwashing, running our market stalls, collecting at tube stations, and selling things on eBay – have been handed out based on who actually wants to do them. This will – we hope – result in more productive work. An interesting bi-product of this is that several other members – Ben, Richie, and Kojo – have expressed interest in contributing to this blog. Expect a more diverse range of voices here in the near future. (Hence my use of the plural pronoun in the title of this entry).

Another interesting bi-product was that several people said they were interested in doing things that we didn’t do last term. We are going to make a group effort to get sponsorship, so we can do some exiting things: I plan to do a second parachute jump, while Ben will also be doing an activity for the second time – a triathlon. Other members will be walking, biking, rowing, and baking cakes.

Rose


25/4/12
#16: The Spring Residential Project

Another third of a year, another res proj – only this time with a twist!

Previous residentials – all of them – have been quite indoorsy, and oriented towards group discussions, rather than actually doing stuff. Alex – as well as several members – felt that it would be good to do more practical / outdoor activities. There was another problem with previous residentials as well: In the past, we have visited Norfolk, Northamptonshire, and two places in Kent. But… why? If all we are doing is sitting around talking about things, then we might as well just continue going to the scout park in Bounds Green where the first two residentials were held, right? And so, the idea was born…

We roamed further than ever before on this res proj – namely to Swanage in Dorset. And rather than concentrating on a theoretical theme such as communication or understanding disability, the theme for this one was comparing Swanage to London. To that end, we spent two afternoons walking around town, taking note of important facilities there, such as the hotel, the banks, and the post office. (the pub did not escape our attention either!)

And the members’ sessions? Many of these were outdoors to – from basketball to football by way of an exercise circuit. But it wasn’t all as full on. I ran a quiz based on the TV show Pointless, while other members ran a relaxation session, an Easter-egg hunt, and mask painting. We also had a session where we learned about reading music.

We were concerned beforehand that such an outdoorsy res proj would be spoilt by the British weather. The forecast said that it would rain on all three of the days when we would be outdoors (the fourth day was just evaluation and clean-up), and so it did, but only for ten minutes or so each day. The rest of the time we had beautiful sunshine.

Rose


7/3/12
#15: The Winter Residential Project

As mentioned in the introduction to this blog, we take part in a residential project three times a year. People often ask me what exactly this involves. As we’ve just had one, this is a perfect time to explain in detail.

Each residential involves going away somewhere in the UK. This one was in Northamptonshire. Each one has a theme – this time, health and fitness. We had two co-ordinators with us: Alex was leading the “health” sessions, whilst Rich took care of the “fitness”.

Alex’s sessions included a top trumps game about the nutritional qualities of food, an exercise in reading food labels. We also used the knowledge thus gained to plan our meals for the next residential in Easter.

On the fitness side, Rich prepared a gym circuit of four activities for us: gymnastics, racquet games, boxercise, and running against the clock. We then evaluated which one we had enjoyed the most. Rich also made a list of every conceivable sport (or it seemed like it), and asked us to categorize them according to which of the above four exercises they were most similar to. The idea was to focus our thinking towards what activities we could take up when back in London. Several members, including me, have followed through with this.

Each member also organizes one activity for the group, which do not have to relate to the theme. This time around, the members’ sessions were as follows: we made jewellery with Richie, played bingo with Louis, smoothie making with Krystyna, played parlour games with John, painted teacups with Anthony, and played a target practice game with Peter. Stephen ran a quiz, the first round of which required us to identify songs from their lyrics, and the second round was writing the names of countries on a blank map of Europe. Lastly, I ran a session called “The Dream”. I had had a dream some weeks beforehand, in which I found myself in a parallel universe where The Nazis had won World War II. It was OK though, as, in the ‘70s, there had been a revolution organized by autistic people, and the UK had become an ultra-liberal utopia. I had found myself in this world with no food, clothes, money, or contacts, except one. On this meagre basis, I had to put my life back together. I thought it would be a good starting point for getting the group to think about managing such situations. So I acted out the dream with Jo, my volunteer, and then split the group into three, setting each small group the task of thinking about a more realistic, but equally intimidating scenario (losing contact with Kith & Kids, family members dying, and benefits being withdrawn).

In addition to all this, we did our own cooking and cleaning, took part in activities organized by the centre we were at (such as archery), and, on the last day, sat in a circle and evaluated the trip. This was our sixth residential project, and, I thought, the best one ever.

Rose


9/12/11
#14: Festive Antics

It’s a little subdued in the office today. I put this down to it being the morning after the night before. No, we didn’t get drunk… except on happiness and festive cheer.

Remember the social evenings I mentioned in the introduction to this blog? Well, last night was an evening in – the last before Christmas – and Alex decided to get into the spirit of the season with themed activities, cheesy music, and so much glitter that I was afraid it would short out the computer that I’m writing this on (which, as you will have deduced from the existence of this entry, it didn’t!)

I made an important life decision last night – I’m SOLD on Christmas-themed drama games! I imagine that being an elf on the production line at Santa’s factory isn’t quite as joyous as it’s cracked up to be, but miming the same activity for the group filled me with the kind of warm tingle you only get at this time of year. Other mimes included opening an exciting present, opening a disappointing present, and trying to escape from a giant Slinky Spring (or at least that’s what it looked like.)

The second half of the evening was taken up with trying to make Christmas trees out of newspaper and tape, which we did in three groups. (yes, competitively.) Two of the three designs, including that of my group, were basically the same (branch-shaped sheets of paper stuck to a central tube, in turn stuck to an improvised base), but the winning design looked more like a dodecahedron-shaped zorb ball with tinsel than something you’d find in a forest. (I’m not bitter – honest!)

A dampener on the festive mood was that at last weekend’s stall, we made a loss. The takings minus the fee for the stall came to a profit of just £5, and that was before petrol money and the wages of the paid staff who worked the stall. We have decided to investigate the places where we sell more thoroughly in future, but our successful sessions outside Budgens in Crouch End mean you may be seeing a lot more of us there in the coming weeks and months and…

Rose


7/12/11
#13: Introducing Paulina

Hello everyone. I am currently doing a placement at Kith & Kids as an intern, and I’m helping out with the Self-Advocacy Group, and also with ELSEP. I am only in the UK for this placement. I am from Poland, and I got here six days ago.

I’m 21 years old, and I am studying social work at university back in Poland. Things I like include playing guitar and singing (including the work of Jason Mraz, Beirut, and the Polish groups Myslowitz, Edyta, and Gorniak), the TV shows Dr. House and Whose Line is it Anyway?, telling jokes, going out with friends, and skating.

I try to be non-conformist, and go the opposite way to everyone else, because it makes me feel independent. I went to Spain to study at university, because everyone was telling me I shouldn’t. I couldn’t speak Spanish, and my friends and teachers thought I would be back in a few days. I wanted to prove to them that it wasn’t a problem, just a challenge.

Paulina


2/12/11
#12: Art & Craft, Aikido, and Atheism

Tomorrow is our second stall. We will be appearing at the Art & Craft Fair at Islington Link-Up (address at the bottom of this entry) from 11 am to 5:30 pm. We will be selling the same mix of Doreen Collins prints, retro war posters, and greetings cards.

When I started this blog, I didn’t just want it to be about the group as a whole: I had a long-term plan for it to include insights into the lives of the individual members. So, in other news…

I have had a most mind-expanding week! Some people try something new every day. I’ve never managed anything like that, but earlier this week, I did get two new experiences under my belt in as many days: an aikido class, and an atheist group.

Learning aikido – a Japanese martial art – has been an ambition of mine for many years. On Monday, I took the first step by sitting in on a lesson. It gave me a good idea of how much I have to learn, and the goal is now clearer in my head. But the class was of the watch-and-copy type, and I would need more detailed instruction to guide me through the complex movements involved. So, the search for a suitable class continues…

The following evening, I fulfilled another long-term aim. I have been an atheist virtually all my life, and up till recently, have been content to say so proudly, and have the occasional verbal tussle with a Christian. But in the last few years, I have felt increasingly disaffected by the way our society puts religion on an undeserved pedestal, and the misunderstanding and mistrust of science that pervades our culture, and I have been more and more feeling the need to spend time with people who are on the same page. Thus I found myself in a pub, explaining how Pascal’s Wager is the world’s best argument for… Satanism! It was great to be in a room where there were no sacred cows, and I will definitely be showing my face round there again.

Anyway, see you tomorrow for Christmas shopping (that’s right – even a godless heathen like me can get into the spirit of the season!), at:

48 Seven Sisters Road,
Islington,
London N7 6AA

Rose


25/11/11
#11: Selling Art

It seems like ages since I last updated this blog. Actually, looking at the date of the last one, it is! We’ve been so pre-occupied in the intervening time, principally by our stall in Crouch End.

Having stayed up all the previous night with the aid of special-interest podcasts and copious amounts of a popular energy drink, I arrived, a little light-headed, at first light, at Finsbury Park Bus Station – there to meet Maithi and Danielle, who help out with the group. We caught the bus to Crouch End, and collected the equipment from Budgens. The equipment consisted of a stall, the ceiling of which was held up by two – well, they appeared to be freshly cut logs (I felt like I was on some extreme survival programme), and some decorations. We debated whether to go with the union-jack bunting, or the generic multi-coloured variety. I favoured the politically neutral option, but I wouldn’t have if I’d known what was going to happen next…

We had much interest from passers by – particularly in our wartime posters – and made around £300 by the end of the day. It was only last Wednesday, when we had our second stall, and failed to make as much, that I realized that the interest on the first stall may have been due to its timing: on Remembrance Day. We were also not there for as long the second time. Still, it was a lot of fun.

I was keeping a record of what had been sold, as I experience anxieties around talking with strangers. Meanwhile, my colleagues interfaced with the public – Jim in particular striking up some interesting conversations. It turned out that several people in the Crouch End area had connections with Kith & Kids already, and one person suggested that we sell the artwork of the members – a suggestion that Alex and I were keen to take up.

Rose

4/11/11
#10: The Framing Business Takes Shape

Remember the picture-framing business I talked about two weeks ago? Well, we are getting ready to sell. And we are finding that there is much work involved in creating a framed picture!

As well as the frame, a backing board needs to be attached to each picture, and both need to have sticky tape put on them in preparation. Then the picture is pressed onto the backing board, and the frame onto the picture. We are also adding printed cards with information about Kith & Kids. In order to get all these jobs done, we have organized ourselves into a moving production line. But we are also rotating who does what, so that the overall enterprise gives us as much experience as possible.

Our first date for selling is next Friday, 11th November, outside Budgens in Chrouch End. So come along to buy a Christmas present and support disabled adults in North London!

Rose

19/10/11
#9: Introducing Ben

I am Ben. I am 25 years old. I have mild autism.

I live in on my own in a flat in Shoreditch with my two rats called Lucy and Sally as I love animals. At home, I like cooking and eating good food and watching TV, especially WWE and sci fi. I love Facebook and using the web. I am into arts and crafts, especially beading (making bracelets and necklaces) and painting. Also, I love all sorts of pop music and writing songs.

I am a big Spurs fan and I like going to games at White Hart Lane, as well as watching football on the TV. I also enjoy going to the pub and hanging out with mates.

I enjoy travelling the world, particularly going on Contiki Tours, on which I have been on three times and I will be going on two more – one in New Zealand and the other in Oz, when I leave the UK on 31st October, that are going to be so much fun. When I get the chance, I really enjoy swimming in the sea and taking part in water sports, such as white water rafting and surfing and wind surfing. I love trying new things and over the last few years I have done 7 bungee jumps!

I am a member of the Kith & Kids SA group, something which I really enjoy. It has helped me become the person I am today. I love being random and having a laugh as I’m a free spirit.

I will add more information soon.

Ben

28/10/11
#8: Introducing Alex

Hi! I’m Alex and I co-ordinate the group and a lot of their activities. I became involved with Kith and Kids about seven years ago first of all as a volunteer and then as a co-ordinator 3 years ago.

I’m enjoying seeing all the great times people are having at the moment. Our residential trips have been a great success and hope that not only are they fun, but also a good learning experience.

To let you know a few things about me too – I’m a dad to a 14 month old girl, a husband and have a beard. When not spending time with the group or at work, I’m a fan of cooking, a fan of all sorts of films and a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, but mainly just like to spend time with family and friends.

The group getting together each week raising money is a really positive experience for me. I enjoy seeing people come together to support each other and overcome any problems we have. The idea of being able to self-fund our own projects is a great ambition to have and we have most definitely started down that path! Up to now, car washing, eBay and train collections have gone well. However, I feel that the new picture framing venture we are embarking upon has real potential to grow and become something that we all get a lot of enjoyment from.

I just have to wait and see what comes next for us all – watch this space to find out just what that is.

Alex

21/10/11
#7: A Picture-Framing Business

In our search for ways to be enterprising, the SA Group is having to be creative, and is drawing on many of the diverse resources accumulated in Kith & Kids’s 42-year history. And now, we have gone right back to the beginning.

Doreen Collins, one of the founders of K & K, was also a painter and sculptor. She started painting in response to increasing pressures in her life. She says: “I became very fascinated in trying to present movement and vitality on a flat surface.” She drew inspiration from both the Cubist and Futurist movements, and painted many portraits, among other types of painting. Using vivid colours and geometric shapes, she captured life in the moment.

Her husband, Maurice, has donated prints of these to the SA Group, and we are framing them. We are also framing iconic posters from the World Wars. We will be selling both in the very near future. You can buy them by contacting us at:

sagroup@kithandkids.org.uk

We will keep you updated as this project develops.

Rose

21/10/11
#6: Introducing Krystyna

My name is Krystyna and I’ve been a member of the Kith and Kids Self Advocacy group for about 3 years.

I really enjoy coming to the group meetings. I love meeting new people and making friends with other members. I’ve been on a number of residential projects with the group, including a project in The Scout Park in Bounds Green and another project in Norfolk. The activity that I have enjoyed most was the cooking. I’ve cooked a number of dishes including beef, pasta and pizza, but my favourite dish was beef Stroganoff.

The group has also made t-shirts with designs on them

Outside the group I enjoy watching films. I don’t like films with violence in them but I really enjoy Harry Potter. I like the Fantasy in the Potter films and my favourite is the Chamber of Secrets. My favourite show on T.V. is Strictly Come Dancing.

I listen to Magic Radio, it’s my favourite station but I don’t really have a favourite song.
I go to City and Islington College where I do a catering course and I’m really proud of myself for getting there on my own, using the public transport.

My ambition is to work in a professional kitchen and become a chef and to cook beef Stroganoff for people who enjoy really good food – that would make me really happy.

Krystyna

12/10/11
#5: Introducing Richie

My name is Richie, and I’m also a member of the Kith & Kids Self Advocacy Group.

I’m a musician. I play keyboards, and I’m a singer. I’ve recorded two albums, and perform regularly, although because I’m shy, I prefer to perform in a studio.

I’m an epileptic and I’m registered blind, but have partial sight in my left eye.

The other main interests in my life are ladies – I consider myself a ladies’ man – and I am passionate about cars and going on train rides. I’ve been on Eurostar to Paris, but my absolute favourite train journey is the one from one of the Tottenham stations to Liverpool Street.

Being a member of the Self-Advocacy Group means that I have made more friends, and my confidence has increased enormously since I joined the group at the age of sixteen. The group is fun, and I look forward to group sessions, and to holidays with the group.

The thing that I’m most proud of is having recorded my music, and my ambition is to go on making better and better music.

Richie

12/10/11
#4: Our doings on eBay

Ugh – there is never enough money! In our continuing attempts to become self-sufficient, we have found it necessary to increase our fundraising sessions from weekly to twice weekly. As well as meeting on Fridays, we now have Wednesday meetings. I am writing this during such a meeting, however, this blog will continue to be weekly.
The internet, as it often does, has proven to be our friend – specifically eBay. There are many families connected with Kith & Kids besides those in the SA group, and many of them have kindly donated items for us to sell. As well as numerous CDs and DVDs, we have sold some vintage copper flower pots, a reel-to-reel player, some baby and child equipment, and a hand-held electronic bridge-playing gadget (although the “hand” in this case seemed to belong to someone who lived at the top of a beanstalk!)

Of course, the more donations the better! So if you have anything we could sell, we would be most happy to hear from you, so please e-mail us at:
Sagroup@kithandkids.org.uk

See you next time,
Rose

7/10/11
#3: Car washing

Kith & Kids, as its name suggests, was originally sat up as a children’s and families charity. Because the Self Advocacy group is composed of adults only, the way we work is sometimes a little different from the rest of the organization. In 2010, we decided we wanted to work towards becoming self-sufficient in terms of our fundraising. We started meeting every Friday, to try and raise money for our residential projects. One of the ideas we came up with was a car washing service.

The building that houses Kith & Kids, The Haringey Irish Centre, is a community centre where several other charities also have their offices… and it has a large car park! Several times in the past, we have sent flyers round the building, to drum up business. Today, we were at it again!

Over the time we have been doing this, our group efficiency has greatly improved, and today we were quite a slick crew. In a morning and part of an afternoon, we washed five cars, and made £30 plus tips, which will be going towards our next residential project… and all in the British October weather! (post heat wave.)

Rose

7/10/11
#2: Introducing Rose

Hello again, As I said, I will be introducing the members of the SA group in the course of this blog, and I’m one of them, so I guess I should introduce myself!

I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when I was 13, and in school. At the time, I didn’t think being autistic was particularly a problem. Well, OK, I was a loner obsessed with trains, but I was managing my academic life just fine, and being incredibly nerdy (as I was then), that was all that mattered! But then I went to uni (I studied Physics), and between the depression I was going through at the time, the much greater volume of work there was to cope with, and trying to live independently, I sank like an anvil.

On returning to my Mum’s house with my tail between my legs, I decided to reassess my life. I decided there were more important things in this world than exams and opening dates of Tube stations, like emotional stability, lifeskills, and the company of good friends. I became involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities, such as singing, gardening, and social groups. As part of this, I joined the SA group in 2008.

So who am I? Well, I’m a hyperactive, song-writing, thoughtful, animal-fixated, godless metal chick trapped in the body of a hippy dude. I believe that Communism is too right wing, that Led Zeppelin suck, and that lemonade just isn’t the same without a dash of salad cream.

In 2009, I did a parachute jump to raise money for Kith & Kids, and I have also been on several girly shopping sprees, had numerous interesting philosophical discussions, and am recording an album as a result of the Self-Advocacy Group. It has broadened my horizons socially, and given me a support network to deal with various obstacles in my life. I have grown as a person beyond anything I could have hoped for just three short years ago.

Rose