Giving the gift of childhood to children across Warwickshire
THE gift of a normal childhood is being given to disadvantaged children across Warwickshire thanks to fundraising campaigns such as Children In Need.
Warwick-based charity the Friendship Project, which provides volunteer ‘older friends’ to children across the county who are living in problematic situations, was among the causes chosen to feature on BBC One’s Children In Need programme last Friday evening.
Over the past three years, the charity, which is currently supporting 80 six to 16-year-olds, has received £15,000 from the campaign - this year’s drive having contributed £5,000 to this total.
Among the families benefitting are Leamington couple Catherine and Pal and their five children.
Lynne Ballantyne, south Warwickshire area coordinator for the charity and volunteer ‘older friend’ to the couple’s seven-year-old son Sebby, explained:
“Catherine has lymphedema, which means she cannot walk and requires 24-hour care, and two of her children are autistic.
“When Sebby was referred to me last year, I did not have a volunteer available, but I could see the need was there, so I decided to do it myself.
“It’s a thoroughly enjoyable role. It really is the highlight of my week. It has made such a difference to his life.”
Catherine’s condition means that Pal has had to give up his career and his children all have various ‘jobs’ they must do to help around the house.
Mrs Ballantyne, whose husband Sam is a volunteer ‘older friend’ to Sebby’s 12-year-old brother Corey, said: “They are such a lovely family and there’s an awful lot of love there.
“When we took Sebby out for the first time, he had never been on an escalator and very rarely did he get to play in the park. These children cannot do things like join clubs and they cannot learn to ride a bike because no one can take them to a park.
“The difference in him in a year is amazing.”
The charity, which is also supporting Sebby’s sister Niamh, offers one-to-one quality time to the children, giving them the chance to play games, run or walk in a park, learn how to cook, go swimming and go shopping.
Mrs Ballantyne said: “I have children in my file who are waiting for volunteers. If people feel they can do for other children what we are doing for Sebby and Corey, we can give those children a childhood.
“Volunteers only need to commit to about three hours once a week. The need is there and we do do an awful lot of good for disadvantaged children.”
Anyone wishing to become a volunteer ‘older friend’ or find out more about the charity, which has supported 1,200 children since it was launched in 1986, should call 0845 838 2098 or visit www.friendshipproject.co.uk
To watch the film that featured on Children In Need last Friday, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0119c3l
Causes across the UK such as the Friendship Project will benefit from the great efforts made across south Warwickshire to raise funds for this year’s Children In Need campaign.
n At the Kingsley School in Leamington, pupils designed their own ‘Pudsey’ cars with the help former British Rally champion Justin Dale, and also raised funds by wearing an item of spotty clothing to school and organising fundraising activities. The total donated by the school was £130.
n Pudsey Bear - more usually known as Simon Milligan, community colleague at Asda in Sydenham - visited Telford Junior and Telford Infants Schools in Lillington, where pupils and staff raised £400 and £375 respectively.
n North Leamington School staged its tenth annual Stars In Their Eyes show, giving pupils the chance to enjoy watching their teachers perform various acts to sixth form judges. The school also held a non-uniform day.
n Pupils at St Augustine Primary School in Kenilworth raised £447 by opening up a ‘pop-up’ restaurant at the school, where diners got to taste dishes from across the world.
n Little ones and their parents who attended Musical ABC sessions in Cubbington and at Kenilworth Wardens Club raised £45 through holding teddy bear-related activities.
n Shadow the dog - with the help of his owner Brian Atkins - collected an impressive £441 by spending four-and-a-half hours over three days sitting on a bench in the Parade in Leamington, holding a sign asking for donations in exchange for a pat.
n Girls at King’s High in Warwick raised nearly £1,800 through a variety of fundraising acrtivities. They arrived at school dressed in pyjamas and fancy dress; baked and bought cakes and biscuits while some forms sat in a sponsored silence raising £200 for this popular annual charity.
Lesley Dudley, the school’s catering manager, and her team, stayed up all night to create hundreds of Pudsey biscuits and cakes, which were sold at break time.
n Many more groups, schools, businesses and individuals across south Warwickshire contibuted towards the cause, which is still open for donations. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008dk4b/features/cin-donate
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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