Meet the new student reps!

Until a few weeks ago there was only one topic the students would talk about – who is going to be the new student rep? The whole process was very emotional, starting with the application which was quite stressful for some students up to the day when the results were finally revealed. Tears of joy were shed, and people were literally jumping around. It was so great to see how much the students care about PiP and how eagerly they wanted to do their part in making the organisation even better.

But how did the students apply for the role? What are the responsibilities coming along with this job? Let’s find out from the two people who know best, the new student reps Rashedul Miah and Shardonnay Roseman. Read their interview here.

Rashedul Miah

Shardonnay Roseman


Hi, my name is Magdalena. I am the new full-time volunteer from German YMCA

“Hi, my name is Magdalena. I am the new full-time volunteer from German YMCA. Nice to meet you”

I must have said this exact sentence or slight variations of it around 80 times during my first week at PiP. While introducing myself to students and staff members, I was desperately trying to remember what names and faces belonged together. I didn’t have much success, I must confess. The moment someone told me their name the previous one was already gone! To avoid embarrassments, I had no choice but to spend my free time starring at the board in the reception, where everyone’s picture and name was pinned on, and mutter to myself.

On my first day, during Leisure Programme, we went cycling in Finsbury Park. I was very nervous as I was when first entering the building, not knowing how my year as a volunteer would turn out. As soon as the students started chatting and riding bikes with me, I had a feeling that I was going to have a great time. It seemed to me that they were genuinely pleased to meet me. Though I cannot be sure, since even after spending more than five weeks in London, I still struggle to see the difference between someone being friendly and someone using the shield of famous British politeness. 😉

My feelings did not deceive me. The rest of the leisure programme was just as much fun as the beginning. An absolute highlight for me was the annual PiP Summer BBQ. Eating delicious food, drinking juice, spending my pocket money on merchandise, chatting with staff, students and parents and shouting “HUH, HAH!” during the Tai Chi session, it was pure delight.

Learning new skills

Though Leisure Programme was a good way for me to slowly get acquainted with staff and students, I only really got to know PiP when the autumn term started.  Since then I have constantly been developing new skills.

First and foremost, social skills. Since I have gotten here six weeks ago, I have become more patient and polite and I improved in detecting people’s mood by getting to know the students’ personalities. Additionally, I am getting better in figuring out when and how to provide help for the students, so that they can profit the most from their session, and for the Development Workers, which can mean simply accompanying a student to the kitchen. Sometimes that includes working with someone 1:1 on the computer or to help them with their spelling. It depends on the session, the students and the general mood of the day, because even though every day is similar, they are also in a way completely different. And that makes my job so exciting!

Besides that, I can benefit from the content of the sessions as well. Makaton really helps me to communicate with the students and Working Together and Cooking teaches me valuable household skills like cleaning, cooking, washing and tidying up. And to be honest, I need that extra exercise.

When the sessions finish, I head upstairs to either help Claire and Fernanda with fundraising, Social Media, office work or to write blog posts, like I am doing in this very minute.

 

Cultural experiences

Working at PiP means being surrounded by many native speakers and I appreciate this chance to learn more about London life and to deepen my knowledge of the English language. Now I know some not-so-daily-words like “mirror-reversed” and “seizure” and I got lessons in “How to survive autumn in London”! By adding my own experiences to the warnings, I feel I am now in possession of precious knowledge.

Rule #1: It rains. A lot.

Rule #2: Be careful getting off the bus! Otherwise you could be washed away by the river that had emerged along the sidewalk. Or you could drown in the enormous puddles. Serious guys, that is not normal.

Rule #3: Always have an extra layer warmth with you. British architects are no fans of insulation.

Though not having been here for a long time I already feel comfortable and like being part of the team. That is due to this great mixture of familiar and professional atmosphere at PiP, where everybody respects each other.

I can only say that I am really enjoying my time here and I cannot wait to see what will come up for me this year.

P.S. Notable mention: Lunch time is always around 12:00. Some might think that is pretty early, but as a person who struggles with being hangry (hungry + angry), I can assure you, it is perfect!


Polina’s PiP Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PiP works with various organisations to provide work experience, support towards a degree or qualification, or general voluntary opportunities. One of those organisations is ARSP who every year provides a year long full time voluntary opportunity at PiP for someone living outside of the UK. This year our ARSP volunteer is Polina from Ukraine. This is her PiP story up to now:

I am in England on a year-long voluntary placement arranged by the German peace organisation Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP). I chose PiP for my placement because I always loved to teach, have a major interest in Autism and wanted to gain some practical experience in this area. However, agreeing to volunteer for an entire year in a foreign country, in an area that I had not experienced before, I was stepping into an entirely different world…

Now, it’s already been 8 months and there hasn’t been a single day that I regret about coming to PIP. It is quite easy to explain why… it is such a friendly place!

My responsibilities mainly involve providing support during sessions, free time and lunch. Even such little things like cutting vegetables or switching the computer on might be difficult for students, so I am here to help.

Before I came here I was interested in Autism, but never had any real experience in it. What struck me most from day one is that all of the students are unique and bright in their own way. Every day I witness dozens of unpredictable and mostly inexplicable behaviours which led me to the belief that it is completely OK to have your own quirks.

There are lots of things I like about PIP, and one of them is that we all have lunch together. The students and staff sit at the one table, share food, chat and it puts us on the same level. I can see that these people have too little equality in their lives so PIP is a great place to compensate for that, even though we do have a lot of rules.

To my mind, PIP is a place where one feels that the world can be changed, that one can be kinder and more tolerant, and that it is not necessary to be in power. This is the place where people with learning disabilities come to be seen, heard and accepted.

This is a place where your initiative is likely to be supported, and where I, as a volunteer, feel like I am part of the team. Within the time I have been here, PIP has already supported and helped implement my idea of ​​creating Christmas wreaths by students.

 

Also I like helping with small things such as taking pictures of the students, looking for the ideas for sessions or taking students to college.

What is most brilliant is that I get to use my teaching experience as I get a chance to lead Fruitful, Cooking and Culture Studies sessions when the usual facilitator is away. This teaching is quite different to what I did before, and it might be challenging, but I like seeing how students gain confidence and independence, day by day.

I’ve always thought that one should do something that makes themselves and others as happy as possible and this is what PIP does so I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of it.

I need to say that PIP made me finally realise what I want to do. I am now going to retrain in Special Education to make it possible to work in a place like this.

I wish that all future volunteers enjoy being here as much as I do.

 


PWC volunteer Whitney organises a Community Day at PiP

PWC volunteer Whitney tell us what have inspired and motivated her to organise a Community Day at PiP

The group of volunteers with PiP staff and our student Marcio

“After attending a two day volunteer event with PIP through my work organisation I was inspired by the mission statement and purpose and wanted to see how else I could get involved.

I am the volunteering chair on the board of the University of Virginia Club. We are a group of alumnae who attended the University of Virginia in the USA and are all based in London. We do a variety of events throughout the year and have been searching endlessly on ways to give back to the London community and volunteer.

When I was introduced to PIP I knew it would be a good fit. Not only do we get to help a great organisation by lending our time and a range of skills (sorting, counting, organising, DIY, etc etc) but we also get to bond and socialise with each other and as a bonus get to meet and interact with some of the PIP students.

PIP is a great organisation and we are thrilled to have held our first of hopefully many community events with the organisation. Looking forward to the next one!”

Have a group of work colleagues or friends and would like to help us by organising a Volunteering Community Day?

Contact our Volunteering Coordinator Adam Pearson on adamp@piponline.org.uk


American School in London Volunteering Day at PiP

We value our relationship with the American School in London as we share similar values. ASL encourages its students to develop integrity and strength of character by learning the importance of helping the community. On Sunday of the 21st October, once again we had a fantastic group of parents and students giving away their time to help us to revitalise our W9 centre reception area and classrooms. They have kindly donated us a reception desk, a storage unit, some art supplies and amazing musical instruments (As we teach our students with learning disabilities to express themselves trough art and music). We can’t wait to use our new supplies during our sessions.

Pya, one of the ASL student, wrote about their volunteering day at PiP:

“It was a pleasure helping to revitalise “Pursuing Independent Paths,” an organisation that supports adults with learning disabilities to learn the independent life skills needed to live better lives. From the very first site visit, we were eager to help out this wonderful organisation in any way possible. This time, we decided to reorganise the reception area and the music room. By doing this and donating some musical instruments we wanted to show our support to some of the most disadvantaged fellow Londoners. Our careful preparation and hard work paid off and we were able to achieve our goals!

It was amazing to see the result of our team effort. It has always been incredible to witness the ASL community of parents and students come together to help our community partners. Students of all different ages– from the lower, middle, and high school– worked hard to get the job done. It was evident from the smiles exchanged between adults and students as they lifted tables that Community Service Day was truly about cooperation, helping others and working together.

It felt good to be able to transform the site to a even more welcoming and accessible place to students and staff so they can continue to use it for the amazing work they do”.

Our fantastic group of parents and students volunteers from the American School in London helped us immensely with transforming our reception area and classrooms.

Teamwork: Tamara, one of the adult project leaders with the students and other parents in front of our W9 centre

 

We would like to engage with more local schools. Please contact contact us on 02089604004 if you think your school could partner with us in any way.

 

 

 


PiP at University of Westminster Volunteering Fair

Here at PiP, we like to attend to as many volunteering fairs as we can to connect with the local community. We welcome university students volunteers. We have opportunities for them to either work directly with our students with learning disabilities, assisting with our front line activities or to work at our offices providing support to our finance and fundraising teams.

 We value our volunteers immensely and we like them to gain as much experience and knowledge they can.

Recently we attended to the Westminster Volunteering Fair and had a chance to connect with so many students who want to gain valuable work experience and help the community. It was also great to connect with other charitable organisations and exchange ideas on how to best recruit volunteers.

See the full list of our volunteering opportunities here.

Our Volunteering Coordinator Adam Pearson and our Office Manager Fernanda Melo attended to the Westminster Volunteering Fair.


City University student Sophia talks about her time at PiP

“Hi, 

 My name is Sophia and I am a university student who has just completed a five-week placement with PiP. 

 PiP is a London based charity which encourages independence and freedom to students with learning disabilities trough specific training on social and communication skills, employability, social well-being and travel training. Having researched what PIP does, this instigated my interest in volunteering for this organisation, mainly because of the intense work and pride they put into striving for the best for their students! 

Sophia helping our student Declan with his artwork during creative art session.

My time at PiP has been an amazing experience! I’ve had the opportunity to work with a range of SEN students and to develop my understanding of social media and marketing to raise awareness of such learning disabilities. I have had a fulfilling experience, working personally with the students and partaking within class training sessions, enabling them to become confident, independent individuals.

Every week, I would participate in cooking sessions, interacting with students. Watching them grow and further develop their cooking and social skills has been a rewarding and satisfying experience.

 Aside from the practical aspect, I’ve also had the opportunity to work behind the scenes and partake in scheduling social media posts, writing blog posts and working out financial budgets for their new campaign ‘Beanstalk’. This has enabled me to get a wider understanding of what PiP does and its main goals/objectives. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at PiP, both the staff and students were very welcoming and lovely; it was most definitely a great place to work over the weeks. It was a great opportunity and I felt that I learnt many aspects of the charity and now have a greater understanding of the type of work that goes on behind charitable organisations.

I would recommend future volunteers to work with PiP as you will embark on a journey with great people, whist also learning many skills in the process.”

Click here If you are interested in volunteering with PiP.

We would love to hearing from you.

 

 


Proximity win Westminster Community Award for their CSR work with PiP

The wonderful team from creative agency Proximity have won a Westminster Community Award for their Corporate Contribution to PiP’s work.

We’re a small team at PiP. Totally committed to supporting people with learning disabilities and dedicated in helping them be as independent and valued in their community as they can be.  Finding that sense of passion and shared values in a corporate partner is a wonderful thing.

Having received support from Proximity on a projects in the past they welcomed our request to discuss the very seed of an idea. The idea was to create a working market stall where PiP students would create and make healthy juices, learn core life and work skills and interact with the general public.  Proximity loved the idea and we could see that this project was something that really excited them.  That excitement turned into two years of work and support that we just couldn’t have dreamed of receiving (as a small local organisation we certainly wouldn’t have been able to financially afford to enlist such expert creatives).  Not only did the team at Proximity come up with a logo, but they created a brand, a story that made sense to us as an organisation and would make sense to those who knew nothing about what we did.

They listened to what we needed and helped us visualise what the project could be.  It was named Fruitful – “It’s not just you it’s good for”.  From there they put hours and hours into designing and physically building the stall (with accessibility in mind) plus designed all of the promotional materials from cup sleeves to A-boards, a recruitment website to help us fill the position of “London’s Juiciest Job” and from there a promotional project website www.fruitfulproject.org.uk which we are now using to seek out companies and markets that wish to book us for their next event.  They are as passionate as us about making this small project into something that any new business or enterprise would proud of and it has resulted in Fruitful being by far the best looking stall in any hip London street food market – a work place and social initiative that our Fruitful trainees and PiP staff and supporters are proud to be a part of.

Fruitful has not only had an impact on the development of adults with learning disabilities, but it is a showcase project for the charity – leveraging opportunities to raise money and awareness to ensure future sustainability of the charity.

Quite simply, this project would not have been able to get off the ground in the way that it has without Proximity.  They assigned time, and top quality expertise from all corners of their business. They didn’t just squeeze us into their busy days, they have committed and continue to commit hours and hours both inside and outside of work time to helping our small organisation and supporting local people in their community. Everyone at PiP is so proud of Fruitful and just so grateful for the support from Proximity.


PiP Fundraising and Communications Manager Danielle Taylor nominated as a SAGE Charity Pioneer

 

Danielle-Taylor-Twitter

Our very own Fundraising and Communications Manager Danielle Taylor has been nominated by one of our corporate partners Sage as a #CharityPioneer. Danielle has over 15 years of fundraising experience in the charity sector, working for organisations that support people with learning disabilities. She is very passionate about what she does and considers it a pleasure to be able to share that passion with people and organisations every day.

Danielle has played a fundamental role in raising awareness of PiP’s work through fundraising activities, social media and marketing. She has established and nurtured valuable corporate partnerships with a range of local, national and international businesses, and developed our links with the local community. Her tireless work has enabled PiP to support over 60 adults with learning disabilities and autism to become more independent, access the community, develop key living skills, and achieve their potential.

Sage Foundation has supported PiP for many years now, contributing financial donations, volunteers and organisational advice. This nomination acknowledges that relationship and presents another opportunity – If Danielle is selected by the Sage awards panel we will receive a £5000 contribution towards our expansion project Beanstalk.

For those wondering what Beanstalk is; currently, PiP has a long waiting list of adults with learning disabilities that would like to attend our W9 centre. But there are no spaces. For this reason we launched the fundraising campaign “Project Beanstalk” which, if successful in its aim to raise £1m, will allow us to acquire a new space and expand the the service to double the size, increasing the number of people who can access the training and development opportunities PiP presents.

Thank you Danielle and good luck!

Click here to read more about Danielle’s journey.


Helena reflects on her time volunteering at PiP

As I am crossing the busy Shirland Road and then turn left to the Shirland Mews where PiP is located, I try to calculate roughly how many times I have been to PiP during the last eleven months. It must be more than 50. Perhaps 60? 70? Even though I can´t figure out the exact number of days; I am sure of one thing: I wouldn’t miss any of them!

 

GYMCA Volunteer Helena Supporting PIP Students in Cooking

I volunteered at PiP as part of my placement at the German YMCA in Bayswater. Every year the charity has two volunteers who very often have just finished school and would like to do a European Voluntary Service. I visited PiP on a regular basis, once or twice a week, as part of my weekly work schedule at the YMCA. 

 

When I started at PiP last September, I didn’t know much about learning disabilities. Therefore, the idea of working with the PiP students made me, on one hand, really excited but on the other hand,  very nervous. That´s why I was even more surprised when, on my first day at PiP, I found out that there was no need to be frightened at all!

 

In fact, I couldn’t have felt more welcome! All staff members were incredibly friendly and I could always ask them any questions I had about my tasks and the Organisation in general. I usually helped at the weekly juicing and the Yoga session. Mainly, my job was to talk to the students and help to engage in the sessions and complete their tasks.

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I enjoyed very much spending time with the students. In the beginning, some of them were a bit shy and had to get used to me, but that changed very quickly. Soon they started to ask me questions and were sad when I had to leave. After a few months, one of them declared he wanted to go on holiday with me and that, as simple as it might sound, was – amongst many others – one of the best moments I had at PiP!

 

Finally, the students have also taught me a lot of very important things. First, that no learning disability is the same, so all students are different, but that is what makes them unique and amiable. Second, if as you are open-minded, you will find that these people can become very special to you, like friends. And third, because of all that, it will be even harder to leave!

 

Thank you to everyone at PiP for the fantastic time I had as a volunteer!