Money raised by Reading law firm staff is enabling Berkshire children with additional needs to take part in mainstream activities, from a trip to the seaside, an adventure weekend or simply being able to become a Scout or Guide.
The Me2 Club, which began in Wokingham but is now expanding into Reading, has received £2,500 in grants from Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ Charitable Foundation – the club supported 106 children aged 5-19 through 7,312 hours of activities last year, with the vital help of 138 volunteers.
Fundraising Development Officer Liz McDaniel explained that there is a constant demand for their support to help children to access activities including sports and drama. The club also organises ‘Days Away’ and residential ‘Weekends Away’. These events give children a chance to build their life skills and have fun with the volunteers, whilst, at the same time, provide their families with much-needed respite.
She said: “We couldn’t do any of it without our volunteers, who are mostly sixth-formers. They often want to work with children or in caring professions but find it difficult to get hands-on experience.
“We can give them that and can provide references for college or work, so we all benefit, especially the children who they are supporting. We take a great deal of care matching a volunteer to someone who needs support, and to watch them together is marvellous.”
One volunteer said: “Me2 Club is one of the best things I’ve done. My experience has honestly been life-changing and encouraged me to keep volunteering and working with children with additional needs. I’m so privileged to have had the opportunity to help a really special young person to take part in the activity that they love.”
The children who went on a recent trip to Portsmouth chose their activities for the day – the aquarium, a pizza lunch, a boat trip and a bus ride; Liz said: “That’s just a normal day out for plenty of young people, but it would be real challenge for many families to provide this for them. Because we can offer this with volunteers’ support, not only do they have a great day, but their families have a break, knowing that they are enjoying themselves.”
Dawn Oliver, chair of the Foundation, said: “Demand for the club’s support is growing steadily and I’m so glad that we could help them with that; we’re involved with their events quite regularly too, so we see the great work they do at first hand.”
Harrison Clark Rickerbys has more than 500 staff and partners based at offices in the Thames Valley, central London, Worcester, Hereford, Cheltenham, the Wye Valley, Birmingham and Cambridge, who provide a complete spectrum of legal services to both business and private clients, regionally and nationwide. The firm also has a number of highly successful teams specialising in individual market sectors, including health and social care, education, technology, agricultural and rural affairs, defence, security and the forces, and construction.